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Saturday October 1- ABQ International Balloon Fiesta-Day 1

I woke up at 4:55 AM and freaked, the alarm did not go off. We had to be out the door to catch the 5:45 bus to head across the road to the balloon fiesta. We are very glad that we have stayed in the RV Park, even with the boon-docking, since it would have been really, really early to have to drive in to the fiesta each day! The bus has a dedicated lane to drive us over to the park and drops us off right at the gate.

Our first stop was at the Chase Crew booth to sign up to work on a balloon chase crew. We could do it any day or every day, but we chose Monday. Craig had given us tickets, that were only good for each event. Two events in a day, meant 2 tickets per day. Signing up to do the crew, we have an unlimited pass. Then we wandered down through some of the vendors. We stopped at the official Fiesta booth and bought 2011 Chase Crew long sleeve T-shirts.

The dawn patrol balloons went up first. They go in the dark, and head up. 009-1002-1

Then the official balloon of the day went up. Some local group sang God Bless America, then we all paused for the Star Spangle Banner.  The planes flew over doing the ‘lost man formation’, the back plane on the left of the picture held back and flew away. 022-1

Then the “Mass Ascension” started with the balloons starting to launch. The balloons are lined up in a row, and a ‘zebra’ signals when they can blow up and when they can launch. A Zebra is a person, who has 3 years of training, and are official volunteers who run a line of balloons.

We watched a lot of balloons, standing in the middle of the field. This is one of the rare places that you can be right on the field with the crews, either helping or watching.

To launch a balloon, first they take it out of the bag, and roll it out the entire length. Then they pull it out on the sides. 015-1



They put the basket at the correct end. 021-1

They they start to inflate the balloon using a large industrial fan. Once the balloon has enough air inflated, it pulls up the basket. This whole time there is a man sanding at the other end with a rope, keeping the balloon from flying away. Once the basket is up, they start using the propane to fill the balloon with hot air, so that it can start to rise. Once the zebra gives them the okay, they then sail away! People have to stay out of the way of the basket as it is taking off.

They were trying to break a world record for the number of balloons that took off is one hour, and we never did hear if they did that. There are 500 balloons here!

I took 149 pictures, so I am not going to put all of them in the blog, but just a sample of what we saw…. 046-1

These are Rainbow riders Balloons. You can pay $385 to take a ride in one of these and they were completely booked, not that we were going to pay that much…060-1067-1

Above, the on on the left is Unikko ( I called it nostalgia). The one on the right is BP..071-1069-1

On the left is Dot ( Bob called it Wonder Bread). On the right is Snobird. 085-1082-1

Left is Annabelle.  Right is Party Panda. 093-1094-1

Gizmo and Darth Vader. 098-1

Nelly B and Humpty Dumpty.


Wells Fargo Stage Coach and Her Highness.


Spider Pig and Little Angel.


Front and back of Betty Jean the Butterfly.


Squawk  and Super FMG


Spirit of Fiesta


Sarah the Witch.


POW and MIA.



Bumble Bee family, the papa is Joey on the right above, mama is Joelly, and baby Lilly Little Bee. Aren’t they cute when they hug!


Mr Z

Finally, The Stork.


After viewing all of the balloons, we walked to the end of “Main Street” and went to the Arts and Craft building. The place was mobbed! We wandered through, and hiked back to the bus stop. We rode back to the motor home, ate lunch, then took a nap.

We slept about an hour. Eventually, we went to happy hour at the tent where Craig had us review our day. After happy hour, we headed back to the Fiesta for the evening entertainment.

We stopped to watch the sunset behind the balloons.001-1

We walked to where we are going on Monday morning, but could not find the balloon. they had moved to do the “Glow” . We stopped at two vendors and I bought a stir fry noodle with chicken. Unfortunately it had red bell pepper, so Bob had a BBQ sandwich. 

We settled on a slight hill to watch the “Glow”. The pilots light up the balloons and it is really pretty. 002-1



Then we had the fireworks, which were different from some on the east coast.




These are the hydrogen balloons; notice the different shapes. These are racing balloons. They were supposed to launch before the glow, but there was a line of thunderstorms to the east, so they launched after the fireworks. These balloons race from the Fiesta to the east coast, where they set down, then return to ABQ, before the end of the Fiesta. The first one back wins the race.

We returned to the motor home and collapsed into bed after a wonderful, but exhausting day!

2 Responses

  1. Wow! What a great memory. We saw about the exact same ones and you guys posted. You are right that was hard for me to have so many photos and only to post a sample of them.

    Hope you and Bob continue to enjoy the journey.

    Tom and Deb

  2. FANTASTIC!!!!!!

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