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2017 Balloon Fiesta sees many firsts, broken records

Emily Jaceks
October 16, 2017 08:19 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Every year, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta seems to expand and reach new heights, and 2017 was no exception.

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As a matter of fact, it was a banner year for the event. Records were shattered, and returning visitors were treated to sights never before seen in the 46-year-history of the world’s premier ballooning event.

Included in those unforgettable sights: The superbike balloon – the world’s largest, and one that awed spectators.

“I saw it at the night glow, it was amazing,” Sapphire Persinger said. “A lot of people (were) taking pictures of it, so I liked it.”

The balloon measures 144 feet wide, 98 feet high and weighs an impressive 1,300 hundred pounds. It came all the way from Holland, and fiesta-goers say it didn’t disappoint.

MORE: Balloon Fiesta coverage

Many visitors also were keeping an eye on the America’s Gas Challenge, which saw teams go farther than ever before after taking off on the first Sunday of the Balloon Fiesta. After nearly 60 hours in the sky and covering 2,278 miles in a gas balloon, the Swiss team of Nicolas Tieche and Laurent Sciboz annihilated the previous distance record.

When it comes to tourists, people continue to come to Balloon Fiesta Park from all around the world.

“We’re getting tourists from all over the world, as far as Iceland, Canada, London,” said Adrian Montoya, general manager at Hotel Albuquerque. “So it’s really nice to see everyone come together.”

Meanwhile, Airbnb officials say about 4,400 travelers rented out local properties over the Balloon Fiesta period, a figure that’s up 68 percent from the year prior to the start of the event.

Last week also represented the biggest week in Airbnb’s history for the Duke City.

“It allows us to let them enjoy our beautiful city, and also contribute to our local economy,” Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry said.

There’s no word yet on if attendance broke any records this year. Organizers of the Balloon Fiesta say they should have those numbers in a few weeks’ time.  

Credits

Emily Jaceks

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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