Balloon Fiesta – Weekend #1

Yesterday (Saturday) was the first day of the fiesta, but all the balloon ascents were cancelled due to high winds. They did a short evening glow and fireworks in the 3:00-7:00 session, but the evening glow was almost cancelled due to wind, too. The evening glow is when the balloons inflate, but are tethered to the ground and they are lit up by the flames of the propane heaters – sometimes in sync to music or some per-determined pattern to entertain the crowds.

A close-up of a goat head burr. My shoes collect about 20 of them each trip outside. They have to be dug out of the sole of my shoes. Just think of the doggies running around! They let their owners know right away when they get one. Bunnie and Bob bought heavy rubberized booties for their dog, Tag, so he could walk around in relative comfort.

It is hard to describe how many RVs there are in this one huge area alone. The official fiesta word is that there are more than 2000 RVs here plus the $157/night spaces closer to the air field.

Sunset over the RV parking area.

Front – Balloon Museum

Back – Balloon Museum

The eight member  “Dawn Patrol” goes up before sunrise to assess weather and wind conditions in advance of the rest of the field. They ascend with battery powered lights as required by the FAA, but cannot return to earth until after sunrise. You cannot see the FAA lights in these pictures, but the brightest balloon is lit by a blast of propane to keep the air inside the envelope (balloon) hot so it stays aloft.

At about sunrise a balloon carrying the American flag ascends and a special guest speaker sings the National Anthem – all is still in the crowd of about 20,000 .

There were several hundred balloons in the air within minutes. It takes a balloon about 15 minutes to fill with air, heat the air and launch. Here an ice-cream cone shaped balloon is the first of about 100 “special shapes” to become airborne.

The scene at ground level – crowds, balloons in various stages of launch and much excitement!

A man and woman holding the crown line with all their might! The crown line stabilizes the top of the balloon while it is being inflated by the blowers.

The crown line holders had to run to keep up with the line as the balloon quickly inflated and became upright. Whew! All done safely! (They are the two people in blue jeans. The lady has on a red ball cap.)

Several special shapes balloons seen here – “how time flies”, “when pigs fly”, and “Elvis”. The big black blob on the ground to Elvis’ left is Darth Vader. His whole ground crew dresses like storm troopers and are a real crowd favorite.

Here is Darth Vader, a penguin shape and an astronaut shaped balloon easily identifiable.

After having a nice Schlotzsky sandwich lunch provided to us in the volunteer tent, I went home to Zuni and a nap. This getting up at 5:00 a.m. to be a volunteer tuckers me out a little!

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