Balloon Fiesta floats idea of 50th anniversary postage stamp

If all goes as planned, the 50th anniversary of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta will be commemorated with a stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

The Albuquerque City Council is expected to vote on a memorial, throwing its support behind an effort to get the USPS to issue the stamp in time for the 2021 50th anniversary event.

The memorial, sponsored by councilors Brad Winter, Pat Davis and Klarissa Peña, is expected to be voted on during the April 1 City Council meeting, said Sean Foran, a policy analyst for Davis.

He said he didn’t foresee any opposition to the memorial. If approved by the council, copies of the memorial will be sent to the USPS Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, which reviews proposals for new stamps and makes recommendations to the to the U.S. Postmaster General, who decides which stamps will be issued.

Rod Spurgeon, a communications specialist with the southwest region of the USPS, said the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee consists of about 15 people who share a respect for philately and have expertise in various fields, including history, science, technology, art, education, sports and other subjects of public interest.

The committee meets multiple times throughout the year and reviews about 50,000 proposals for stamps. Of those, 35 to 50 subjects are eventually selected by the postmaster general, who assigns teams of artists and photographers to design the new stamps, said Spurgeon, who is based in Phoenix.

The push to create the 50th anniversary stamp started with a request from the administrators at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Foran said. “They asked us to write letters of support and instead we thought we’d write a memorial to show that the entire City Council supported it.”

Erica Hahn, executive assistant at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, said the fiesta board and staff recognizes that a stamp for the 50th anniversary will not only serve as “a great promotion, a great way to celebrate, good publicity, and good notoriety,” but would no doubt be extremely collectible.

In addition, AIBF officials are hoping other local and state officials get behind the initiative and send letters of support to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, Hahn said.

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