Balloon Fiesta attendees react to opening weekend

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta went green for the first time since 2019 and attendees excitedly made their way into Balloon Fiesta Park for the Fiesta’s first weekend.

The Fiesta started with Saturday and Sunday’s mass ascensions lifting off from the park, which served a different purpose for many New Mexicans for months. Now, residents are coming there for something they are looking forward to.

"I was saying as I pulled up that we were here this time last year for COVID-19 testing," Fiesta attendee Nathan Webb said. "It’s funny to compare October 2020 to October 2021 at the same spot. It’s nice."

For New Mexico, Balloon Fiesta is an annual chance to show off the Land of Enchantment’s beauty that, like balloons flying in October, is normal for residents but is almost a dream for out-of-state Fiesta attendees. In 2019, more than 70% of Fiesta attendees came from out-of-state and many of them returned for this year’s return.

"It’s awesome! A lot more than we expected, a lot of beautiful balloons out here and the very friendly people in New Mexico," Martin Guerra, of San Antonio, TX, said. "We’re just so happy to be out of Texas for a while and able to travel again."