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Big crowd, cool air, light wind for Saturday mass ascension

Dawn Patrol lifts off Saturday at Balloon Fiesta Park. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Crowds cheered when the green flag was raised over Balloon Fiesta Park, kicking off Saturday’s mass ascension.

Light winds early in the morning created perfect box conditions, letting the balloons fly south before coming back over the park.

Parking lots are full at Balloon Fiesta Park.

Thousands of people flocked to the field before sunrise, quickly filling parking lots. Fiesta officials announced they were completely full just after 7 a.m.

Traffic was already backing up south of Alameda on northbound Interstate 25 at 4:30 a.m.

Masses of people bundled up in down jackets and chunky knit hats swarmed around the park before Dawn Patrol.

Parents lifted their kids up close to balloon burners to keep them warm as the temperature dropped to 32 degrees before the sun peaked over the Sandias.

Balloons were still inflating and hanging around the field at 9 a.m. and temperatures were slowly rising.

As pilots started landing, one balloon hit a power line at Coors and Glenrio near Fortuna around 8:40 a.m., causing several stop lights along Coors to go out.

Officials did not say if anyone was injured.

PNM’s Twitter account reported that power lines were down due to the the crash.

More pictures

 

Slide show: Balloon Fiesta through the years: Pictures from 1972-1991

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