Appreciating all that makes America special

Americana: Albuquerque International Balloon Festival

Participation in the Albuquerque Festival peaked at 1,012 in 2001. Today, with emphasis on quality rather than quantity, there are ONLY 600. Uploaded by filelibrary.myaasite.com.

They say it’s the most-photographed event in the world, and that wouldn’t surprise me. Every once in a while a hot-air balloon soars near my home, and I’m fascinated by it. At the Albuquerque Festival, some 600 balloons of all shapes and colors fill the air. That’s just amazing.

Balloon glow. Uploaded by eagleseyephoto.com.

The festival began back in 1972 with 13 entries. The organizers had tried to top the largest festival in the world, which at the time featured 19 balloons. They got commitments from 21 pilots, but bad weather kept some away. You have to admit that they’ve more than made up for that initial disappointment. Participation peaked at more than 1,000 in 2001, but organizers cut back the total because the skies became just too crowded.

Today the festival is held in October each year. More than 100,000 spectators witness a variety of events, including Dawn Patrol, Mass Ascensions, Balloon Glows, and a Special Shape Rodeo. Of course, there’s also food and entertainment galore. But the main attraction will always be the amazing sight of all those balloons in flight in the clear New Mexico sky…

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