The alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. and I throw the pillow over my head and think ‘maybe it’s too windy; maybe they can’t fly, maybe I can sleep in…’ The 2nd alarm goes off at 5:45 and I lift the blind, peek through the window and see the glow of the 1st balloon. I see them! They’re going up!
Jump out of bed, splash water on my face and brush my teeth. Throw on the pair of jeans and sweater that I wore the morning before, grab our jackets, scarves and gloves, pick up the flashlight, our entry pass AND CAMERA and we’re off!
It’s 6:00 a.m., the dark grounds are a sea of people, you can smell the breakfast burritos and green chile and the Tiny Tom donuts, souvenir booths are open and busy, the hospitality tents are serving breakfast to invited guests, the balloon trailers and chase vehicles are parked on the field – it’s a beehive of activity! Some of these people have been here since 3:30 a.m. and I say out-loud for the hundredth time –
This is the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. From its modest beginnings in 1972 when 13 pilots launched from a shopping mall, this year’s Fiesta – with over 650 beautiful balloons from 19 countries – has grown into the largest & most photographed balloon event in the world!