Friday, October 17, 2008

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2008

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta for the first time. To see the mass ascent, you have to be there at dawn, so a group of us went down the night before and stayed over. (So we only had to get up at 5:30 in the morning instead of 4:30!)

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
We had bought passes to the "Diamond Club", upstairs at the Balloon Museum (which is shaped like a balloon lying on its side). The curve at the top of the balloon houses a windowed function room and an outdoor deck which faced onto the field where the balloons were taking off. A catered breakfast (quite good!) was served, and there were heaters on the deck to help make it not quite so chill. (Even though it was close to 80 degrees later in the day, it was still in the 40s when we started our vigil at 6:30 in the morning.)

Hundreds of balloons ascended in front of us, many passing directly overhead, and a few going down in an open area just to our left.

According to the Balloon Fiesta's official website, the event started in 1972 when Dick McKee, general manager of KOB Radio, approached Sid Cutter (a charter member of the local balloon club) about flying their “Roadrunner” balloon to help launch festivities for the station’s 50th anniversary. Dick asked: “What is the largest balloon race that’s ever been held?”
Sid replied, “Nineteen balloons in England.”
“ Can we get 19 balloons here?”
“ I don’t know why not.”

Thirteen balloons eventually turned out for the first Fiesta, and 20,000 people showed up to watch. The following year there were 138 balloons, and the event just kept growing. I heard there were 650 balloons this year, which is down slightly from 2007.

What an amazing experience!!

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta
Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

7 comments:

Todd said...

Lovely photos!! We tried going down but the event we wanted to see got rained out. You captured some lovely shots!
Peace!
Todd in Santa Fe

Zoe said...

Your photographs are wonderful! :)

SantaFeKate said...

Todd and Zoe--thanks for your comments! We really lucked out with great weather in a week where there was rain and wind on both ends....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for beautiful photos of the balloons (and all of your beautiful photos in general). I haven't been to the fiesta in a few years. I really enjoy your blog, both for the photos and the edification. I visit SF about 4 x per year. Hope to someday have a 2nd home there.

sunday said...

I'm anonymous above, but didn't mean for it to appear that way as I think that might seem stalkerish. Anyway, I look forward to your next blog.

SantaFeKate said...

Sunday--I never think folks who take the time to make comment are being stalkerish! Thanks for reading and for your positive feedback. I have been very busy the past couple of months which is why the postings have been sparse, but I hope to pick up the pace in the months to come. There's so much wonderful stuff to photograph and write about in Santa Fe!

Kate said...

It truly is an awesome sight, and thanks for the vicarious experience through your photos. It's hard to decide which is a favorite because there are so many outstanding designs. Must have been a terrific experience...so colourful!