Balloon Fiesta officials discuss public safety ahead of influx of visitors

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Before the hot-air balloons get fired up, making sure the 50th anniversary event is safe is the No. 1 priority at Balloon Fiesta Park.

“Did an assessment of well, do we need one person or do we need three people there and, in some spots, we had to increase of the amount of traffic flow or because where the position was, for threat mitigation,” said Sean Wallace, the public safety director for Balloon Fiesta.

In addition to more public safety officers around the park, there will also be a larger Albuquerque Police Department presence.

“Expect that you will see additional officers and you may see them in different places you haven’t seen them before,” said APD Deputy Commander Mike Meisinger.

Officials said the milestone year for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta could be a vulnerability.

“When you look at assessments, one of things you look at, is there any potential for people wanting to attack the event based on being an anniversary?” Wallace said. “This being the 50th, of course, there are individuals that may look at that as an opportunity.”

Another change this year includes more Tag Your Tots sites to help families stay together.

“In the past, we felt like we were not getting all the children or as many as we could, so we wanted to put some sites for Tag Your Tots at the entry, so you will see we have a north end, a south end, and right in the middle center of the field,” Wallace said.

Event officials said there are no credible threats toward Balloon Fiesta, but they said they need to take precautions in this day and age.

Another important reminder officials highlighted is that visitors should make sure to not keep any valuables in your car.