Colorful balloon drop brings early welcome to 2019 - Albuquerque Journal

Colorful balloon drop brings early welcome to 2019

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Pop! Pop! Pop!

In lieu of fireworks, a mass of kiddos at Explora’s Noon Year’s Eve celebration made it their mission to pop – one by one – a sea of colorful balloons that had fallen from the ceiling just moments before.

Exactly 2,019 balloons sprinkled down and bounced atop the heads of children and into Explora’s fountain on Monday.

It was all to usher in the new year 12 hours early.

After all, of the estimated 1,400 people who attended, most were children who wouldn’t be awake by the time the new year started.

Joe Hastings, Explora’s executive director, said he suspected he would be sleeping by that time too.

So because Explora is geared to families and young people, Noon Year’s Eve, which is in its fifth year, allows for a daytime bash. And it’s one of a few public countdown events in the city.

“There’s only one other 12 in the day,” Hastings said about the timing of the event.

Still, 8-year-old Samuel Clouse and his buddies were pretty sure they would be alert and ready come midnight, making two New Year’s Eve celebrations for the boys, despite their assurances being met with skepticism from their dads.

Nine-year-olds Mateo Hurtado, left, and Grayson Staley wore 2019 glasses to the Noon Year’s Eve celebration Monday.

Explora was a regular Times Square of Albuquerque – sans the headliners, but with the chaos and excitement – featuring people donning 2019 glasses and “Happy New Year” headbands. Some sounded off noisemakers they made at the museum, while other kids sat on their parents’ shoulders.

Mayor Tim Keller and his family were there, leading the countdown to the balloon drop.

“I want to wish everyone a very special New Year’s from the city of Albuquerque,” the mayor said, with his daughter on his hip.

Then it was nearly time.

“Ten, nine, eight … ”

Mayor Tim Keller and his daughter led the countdown to launch the balloon drop. Keller wished the group a happy new year before thousands of balloons fell from on high. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal )

The crowd yelled along with the mayor until nets were released and the colorful balloons fell.

The drop was a hit, with the crowd erupting in cheers. And it was particularly special for the Sanchez twins, Colter and Conway, who turned 9 Monday.

Yvette Sandoval, visitor services director, told the Journal that all hands were on deck to blow up the 2,019 balloons. Staffers put on a movie and made a day out of the task, filling an entire room with balloons.

This year’s event was attended by about 1,500 people, up from last year’s roughly 1,100 partygoers, Sandoval said.

The event included a selfie station, electricity demos, special exhibits and a “wish wall” that displayed resolutions and hopes for the coming year, including “to pass my classes” and a wish for a “stuft anumol.”

Hastings said the museum plans to continue the Noon Year’s Eve tradition next year.

“We will be back in a year with 2,020 balloons,” he said.

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