Fulbright Travels, Week Four

Art. Culture. Ballooning.

This past week, Albuquerque hosted its International Balloon Fiesta, and what a fiesta it was! Each day of the week hosts different events and balloons.

I made it out to the Thursday special shapes day. To get the best experience, you have to arrive early, as in 6:30 am early. The air was cold, the balloonists were still arriving, the air charged with anticipation.

Balloonists ready.jpg
Balloonists getting ready

The sunrise was spectacular, and marked the beginning of the ascensions. The first ascension balloons carried an American flag as the national anthem played. Then, preparations for the mass ascension began.

Watching a hot air balloon inflate is quite captivating. There are a lot of people and work required to get the balloon inflated and upright. Huge roaring flames are used to heat the air and inflate the balloon.

roaringflame
Roaring fires are needed to heat the air

The special shapes included all manner of balloons, from cartoon-inspired Bugs Bunny characters, to dragons, pirates and birds. And in the late morning, there is a competition whereby balloonists need to pilot their balloon to a target field, and throw a weight as close to a target on the field as possible.

After being immersed in the balloon fiesta (and eating funnel cake of course!), it is easy to see why people travel from across the world to see it.

And just for fun, here is the mandatory balloon fiesta hat photo:

mequid2.jpg

Stay safe and stay informed,
-Joe

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