ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta organizers are emphasizing safety as the event returns for the first time since 2019. In a news briefing Thursday morning, planners emphasized a return to form for many of the standard security practices, including reminders about weapons, metal detectors, bag searches and more.
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“It will be the safest place in New Mexico because of all you guys,” Balloon Fiesta Board President Matt Gutherie said Thursday. “It’s a group effort and it makes us the greatest show out there.”
Like years past, security will be a collaborative effort at the 2021 event, with Albuquerque Police and Fire Rescue, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s and Fire Department, New Mexico State Police and other city, state and federal partners participating. A special agent with the FBI in Albuquerque, Phillip Russell said Thursday the FBI is not aware of any “specific, credible threats” against the event.
Director of Public Safety for Balloon Fiesta, Sean Wallace says event-goers cannot brings guns to the field or knives larger than four-inches. Event staff will use metal detectors and conduct bag searches to detect contraband items. Anyone caught with banned items will be escorted outside to either put the item back in their vehicle or dispose of it.
“We’ve taken an all hazards approach,” Wallace said. “I think you’ll see we’ve done everything we can, we’ve prepared, we’ve tested, we’ve left no stone unturned and we’re moving forward.”
Wallace also reminded event goers that the use of metal detectors may cause a delay to go into the park. The event will also use express lanes for people who don’t bring bags with them.
“If you bring a large bag, please understand that you’re going to be in a line that may be slower,” Wallace. “If you don’t bring any bags or anything to the park you can walk through our express lane, we’re trying to take care of those that are just trying to get on to the field as soon as possible.”
Other items that are not allowed on the field include glass bottles. No alcohol is allowed on the field either, according to event organizers.
New Mexico State Police is asking parents to utilize the “Tag Your Tots” service during the Fiesta. The service, also used at the State Fair, uses wrist bands for kids which can provide information to police officers if the child is separate from their parents.
Earlier this week, Fiesta officials said they’re expecting 545 balloons at the event. They also talked about some new things people can expect at this year’s event, including 35 new remote-controlled balloons.