Mass ascension marks return of Balloon Fiesta

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Thousands of people watched from the field as hundreds of balloons lifted off into the sky on the first day of Balloon Fiesta.

"We’re excited it’s happening again, glad that the state’s very vaccinated and we’re able to enjoy this again,” said Frank Schwebel, Balloon Fiesta attendee.

From dawn patrol to the special shape balloons —they’re the sights and sounds people haven’t seen in two years, after the event didn’t happen last year due to the pandemic.

The wait made the return even more magical, a much-needed sense of normalcy.

"It’s good to be back, we kind of felt like we were robbed of something last year because this is an annual thing that we do and so when we didn’t come we just felt empty, so it’s really nice to see a little bit of normal and to see people out without being scared of something,” said Pert Sandoval, attendee.

For some – they’ve been coming to Balloon Fiesta for years, New Mexicans making it a family tradition. For others not from the state – they got to experience it for the very first time.

"This is my first time, we’re from out of town, visiting and we’ve not done this before, so I’m looking forward to it. Lots of folks, it’s going to be a beautiful day," said Roy Wait, Balloon Fiesta attendee.

It’s an experience like no other – getting to be up close on the field, in the middle of all the action and excitement, watching the sky above fill with color during the mass ascension.

"I’m ecstatic about it because last year was just a heartbreak that we didn’t have the Balloon Fiesta,” said Dennis and Chrisinte Magee, attendees.