Beauty Takes to the Skies at the International Balloon Festival
~ by Amy Lignor
The World’s Premiere Hot Air Balloon Event is gearing up in Albuquerque once again, and the news for this global occasion (October 3rd-11th) is everywhere. People from all corners of the world are already setting up at the place: “Where Dreams Take Flight.”
No, this is not a New Mexico event, although the culture, beauty and history of the area is a part of the Fiesta. For those who have not yet attended this unforgettable annual meet, it will be interesting to learn that this actually started out as a far smaller Balloon Fiesta back in 1972. What began as a simple conversation to highlight the 50th birthday celebration of a local radio show, grew into an event that all cultures, communities and countries rush to attend.
Up until this point in time, the largest gathering of hot air balloons ever seen in the world had been only nineteen in England. Bad weather, unfortunately, turned the first Fiesta’s twenty-one scheduled balloons into a gathering of only thirteen, not beating the record. But here is where balloonists competed in races. Balloons with the likeness of the Warner Bros. character, the “coyote” competed against each other, with the one coyote that landed closest to the Roadrunner coming away the winner. Don Piccard, a name that is literally a dynasty when it comes to aviation, won that first race back in 1972. Today, however, the Fiesta has grown monumental. Not only are the coyote and the roadrunner still able to be seen, but every character you could possibly think of has joined them. From Darth Vader to Tweety, there are so many characters, shapes and colors of balloons that Albuquerque finds itself injected with a whole new energy.
The Mass Ascension is what boggles the mind, and can be seen on T.V. news programs everywhere you look. During the Mass Ascension, a launch of all the balloons attending create the most spectacular display of sound and color that the entire field of aviation has ever seen. Launching in two separate waves, the balloons lift into the sky at 7:00 AM, with one balloon flying the American flag while The Star Spangled Banner plays, in the lead.
There are many other things to behold during the events. The Special Shape Rodeo, which began in 1989, has become the most popular over time. These Special Shape Rodeo balloons launch in the afternoons and create not only huge crowds, but massive traffic jams. But it really doesn’t matter if you’re stuck in the car when you get to see these incredible creations decorate the world up above you. Twenty-eight shapes participated in the first event, but the Special Shape Rodeo has grown and grown each and every year, with a ridiculous 108 balloons in 1996 (expected this time around: 125). They also glow from the field in the evenings, moments that have earned the title: Special Shape Glowdeo. Just staring at these huge balloons glowing en mass is an experience that lives with you for all time. And above, after the skies have grown even darker, an after-glow fireworks show commences.
For those who want nothing more than to actually get in that basket and soar, the company Rainbow Ryders offers Official Balloon Rides for the Fiesta. As the official ride concession for this, the largest ballooning event in the world, they are the only authorized company to take off from Balloon Fiesta Park. But calling now and reserving a seat in your incredible balloon that should be done now. (First class seats to a world you have never seen before: www.rainbowryders.com).
People from all nations and backgrounds have already begun to assemble in Albuquerque, as well as the hundreds of artisans, musical guests, chefs supplying the absolute best in food, and the list goes on and on, are already setting up. So if you are among those that seek adventure; look for that ultimate excitement, the only “must” you have on your list is to attend the Fiesta. Watching these unforgettable balloons take flight, and even hitching a ride, cannot be found anywhere else on the planet!
For more information: http://www.balloonfiesta.com/#