ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Over the last 49 years, The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has had its share of celebrity sightings and now they can add a popular former child star to that list. There’s a lot of things that can catch your eye at Balloon Fiesta Park, besides the balloons. On Sunday, a large crowd spotted former Disney star, Hilary Duff.
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“Taking off, and the crowds cheering and then they realized oh my gosh that’s Hilary Duff and it’s like holy mackerel. So she was having a great time,” said Scott Appelman, the CEO of Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Company. “It was really, really special.”
Appelman shared video with KRQE News 13 of him taking Duff along with her mother, daughter and assistant up in a hot air balloon Sunday morning. Appelman said she and her family had a blast and he’s grateful he could make their first hot air balloon ride a memorable one. This isn’t the first time Appelmans flown a celebrity.
“We’ve had the privilege and honor of flying so many different people,” said Appelman. “I’ve gotten to fly Al Gore, Tony Dorsett, Bryan Cranston, Kelsey Grammer, Michael Dell, it just keeps going on and on and on. All I can say is, it’s really cool to get to do that.”
In a video posted by Duff, she noticed there wasn’t much space to land and even asked Appelman if they were going to have to land in the Costco parking lot on Montano near I-25. It’s the same spot highlighted in a KRQE investigation on October 1.
Before the area near Costco was developed in the early 2000s, up to 490 balloons could safely land there.
Appelman also pointed out the lack of landing sites. Duff’s flight finally landed right next to the Top Golf. Other celebrities who have visited Balloon Fiesta include Jaleel White, best known as Steve Urkel, Jesse Tyler Ferguson from “Modern Family” and Chip and Joanna Gaines.