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Despite weather, Balloon Fiesta was ‘fantastic’

Steve Nichols of England packs his G-Owll balloon after Sunday’s mass ascension was cancelled due to the weather. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Despite a bleak weather forecast, balloonists lifted off seven out of nine mornings during this year’s Balloon Fiesta, making for what organizers said was a phenomenal event.

“Anytime we have a safe event and an event where we fly a majority of the time, those are two fantastic things,” said Ty Young, president of the Balloon Fiesta Board of Directors. “We’re very happy with it.”

Although final numbers aren’t yet available, Young said he believes attendance at this year’s Balloon Fiesta was above average.

And he pointed to two new programs that turned out to be a success.

Balloon Fiesta-goers huddle under umbrellas as rain falls early Sunday. The final mass ascension was cancelled because of the weather. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

A drone detection system implemented by the Public Safety Team was able to confront drone pilots who were flying in balloon airspace. And the X Marks the Spot program let residents put a large X on the ground to show balloonists they were welcome to land on their property.

“We had some tremendous stories from our community of landowners that were very willing to assist our balloonists,” Young said.

Weather forced the cancellation of three out of five evening events along with mass ascensions both Sundays. And attendees who braved low morning temps on the final day only to see balloons grounded can use their tickets to get into any session at next year’s Balloon Fiesta, Young said.

Organizers will start work today to try to improve the traffic situation ahead of the 2019 Fiesta, Young said, and people who purchased park-and-ride tickets for Oct. 6 and were not accommodated can still receive a refund by emailing parkandride@balloonfiesta.com.

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