Pilots, locals share disappointment over canceled Balloon Fiesta

Balloon Fiesta

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world come to Albuquerque every October to see the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The coronavirus outbreak has forced the cancellation of this year’s Balloon Fiesta. It’s a nearly 50-year-old tradition, that transforms Albuquerque skies every fall. “The experience is something you can’t do anywhere else,” says balloon pilot Tristan MacLean.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta draws about 750,000 visitors each year. This year it’s been canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak. “I do think it is kind of one of those situations where we were robbed,” says balloon pilot William Fitzpatrick.

Pilots say it’s a sad reality but they stand by the decision to hold off on the 49th Balloon Fiesta. “When you have 90,000 people on the field each day at least there’s no real way to social distance when you’re that close,” MacLean says.

Some locals were hopeful organizers could still pull it on, just in a different format. “No one had to go into the actual Balloon Fiesta because we always go and park all over the city and watch them,” says Angelina Tena. Others say they would have been more disappointed had it not been canceled. “You want to keep the tradition alive for future generations by doing precisely what we’re doing now and that is maybe sacrificing a year,” says Gino Correa.

Pilots will tell you it’s not just the balloons that make the Balloon Fiesta special, it’s the community that comes out to take it all in. “We want the same turnout even more next year just as strong as we did and we’re planning on this year,” MacLean says.

People who already have tickets, reservations or RV spaces can use them for the 2021 event, get a refund or donate them. Visit https://balloonfiesta.com/ for more information.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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