The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is off to a roaring start, with the first weekend under our belts. People watching is great here and most of the ones we’ve watched are pretty good folks. The first day we had a line of people three or four wide that ran a long way towards the balloon field, probably 100 yards or more. It was pretty warm (some said HOT) and there weren’t enough buses going to one of the parking lots, but all in all most people were pretty good natured about it all. LeRoy and I had a great time directing people to the correct queue to meet the buses to 3 parking sites. That evening there was a wind and thunderstorm, enough to stop the “glow”, but no rain and the fireworks went on as planned. (The glow is when they inflate the balloons but don’t take off. When they fire the burners, the canopies glow with light.) One group of several families met by our exit, with several middle school aged girls and one boy. The girls lined up and decided that each one would say good-bye in a different language, German, French, Japanese, Spanish. They were missing English most of the time because the boy didn’t like to stay put. They had so much fun and so did the people who came past.
The next day, Sunday, I only made it until about 10:30 in the morning because standing for 6 hours didn’t agree with my back at all. It rained here at the RV lot Sunday evening but LeRoy said at the Fiesta Park about 1/2 mile away, they didn’t get very wet.
During the week they don’t run Park & Ride so we had today off. The Volunteer Appreciation lunch today was great, lots of good food and prizes. The theme this year was pirates, so the hosts were dressed up and all the volunteers were given eye patches on the way in. I won a set of Motorola walkie-talkies! I had my eye on the Wii, but these will require less work.
One day this week is for the “special shape” balloons. I guess watching the mass ascension that day is the best ever. Some of the special shapes include Darth Vader’s head, the Wells Fargo stagecoach (which we’ve see inflated but never off the ground) and the Creamland cow. That cow is HUGE and it lifted off yesterday morning, to the roar of the crowd. We haven’t seen Smokey the Bear yet but I understand that balloon has had the misfortune of hitting utility poles, etc. in the past.
All in all, I’d say the long hours of volunteering are worth it to get to watch all these magnificent balloons. We met a couple this evening who help crew for one of the balloons and we’re thinking we might like to try that another year. One of the perks for them is that they get to ride! I know LeRoy would love it. Me? Well, I guess time will tell.