The farewell mass ascension on the final day of the 47th International Balloon Fiesta was canceled Sunday because of rain and high winds.
“It was a well-run, safe event. Unfortunately, we can change the weather,” Director of Operations and Balloon Meister Sam Parks said.
While it was disappointing for many to miss the last chance at seeing a spectacular mass ascension over Balloon Fiesta Park, the die hard fans didn’t leave.
“It’s kind of disappointing but we’ve had a good week,” Eclipse pilot, Joe Nepute, stated. “We like to put on a good show for the people.”
“We were hoping for our second mass ascension today but overall we always have a great time. It’s a good family day,” Tammy Myer of Socorro said.
In fact, huge crowds stayed long after it was announced the flights were canceled, making the best of a rainy situation.
“This place is so much fun,” Kevin Myers of Socorro explained. “They’re going to have to grab me by the ears and drag me out kicking and screaming because I just love being down here.”
Balloon Fiesta officials said overall, the weather cooperated for the majority of the nine-day event.
“We had some challenges on the evening sessions, but we only had one session on Sunday morning where the balloons did no fly and that was out of concerns over winds right above the surface, so they did a static display for the crowd,” Parks explained.
And despite the weather ending the fiesta early, officials said nearly 550 balloons did participate this year with close to 100 of those being special shapes.
“I feel like it’s a little cliche to say the bees so I’m going to say the flip flop balloon is pretty cool, too,” Myers’ wife, Tammy, said.
Meanwhile, officials are already gearing up for next year.
“It’s the largest balloon event in the world and it starts tomorrow as we get ready for 2019,” Parks said.
Balloon Fiesta officials said Park and Ride and admission tickets purchased for Sunday’s canceled farewell mass ascension can be used for any session next year.