Growing with New Mexico: Evolving our Balloon Fiesta coverage

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Every October, the state comes alive with a spectacular sight that never grows old – hot air balloons painting the sky with breathtaking colors. Bringing this visual experience to viewers requires all hands on deck.

Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta has always been a unique experience, and for many, it’s a cue to rise early at 4 a.m. and face the year’s most exciting traffic jam. The reward? The chance to get up close and personal with the awe-inspiring views from Balloon Fiesta Park.

Steve Stucker, the official ‘Balloonatic’, remembers how he convinced KOB to cover the Fiesta every day of the event. “I knew just enough about this to suggest we expand our coverage from just the weekends to 7 days a week.”

Ryan L., a dedicated participant, notes, “There’s a lot of people in the background that are here way early getting things set up, Even the people who have been doing this many years [say] it’s rewarding and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of work to get to that point, though.”

Over the years, the way KOB brings you pictures and videos of the fiesta at home has evolved. From on-the-ground reporting to aerial coverage from Chopper 4, the technology used to gather the news has transformed dramatically. KOB Photojournalist Dennis Quintana remembers, “Everything was tape. So you had to go back and edit tape to tape. There was no getting anything on the air instantly. You had to work for it.”

Steve Stucker would consider his time at the beginning of TV news, the Dark Ages. “When I started in television we worked by candlelight. Actually it hasn’t been quite that extreme, but we’ve gone through several generations of taping shows to everything being digital now.”

Today, technology is taking us even closer to the action with the help of official Balloon Fiesta drones guided by commercial remote pilots. Reporter Tamara Lopez remembers how important Balloon Fiesta was when she was a child, and today as a reporter. “To grow up with it and now report on it is really special to me because people from around the world come to celebrate this.”

With all eyes on the sky, the world is watching the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta with a keen eye for innovation and a sense of anticipation for the future. 51 years strong, the Fiesta continues to captivate our hearts and remind us of the enchanting beauty of New Mexico.