Balloons Over Albuquerque
October 2002
Page 3

The Balloon Glow

Upon arrival at the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta field, it felt good to unfold my legs to get out of the child-sized seat of the school bus that we squeezed into to get to the Balloon Glow. The shuttle bus dropped us off right inside the balloon field grounds. Ahead of us was a row of tents separating us from the balloons. All that I could see were the tops of the inflated orbs. As we arrived, the sun was just about to set, leaving the sky well lighted, but dimming rapidly.

On our way to a really great event

We found our way around the tents and the resulting sight was amazing. It was absolutely AWESOME! When I found my way in among the balloons, I just stood there for a while trying to deal with my senses being filled by what I saw in front of me.

It appeared as if most balloons were inflated when we arrived

There was the field, full of balloons standing up high overhead with the baskets anchored to the earth. Tiny people were roaming all around beneath a forest of huge balloons. The people looked tiny compared to the balloons. The balloons were touching each other, as they were all crowded together for the Balloon Glow event.

People crowd in under a forest of hot air balloons

Before we arrived, I was hoping we would be able to get a close look at the balloons. I was not disappointed; we were able to get a very close look indeed. We walked right in among the balloon handlers and traversed a forest of glowing, hot air balloons. It was GREAT!

Suddenly the PA system came to life with an announcement that a test glow would be made. This would be a rehearsal before aircraft were in place overhead to photograph and videotape the event. Then came the countdown, five - four - three - two - one - GLOW! All of the balloons lighted up the darkness of the night to transform it into a very colorful daylight.

We were able to get right in close to the action

The sound of all those propane burners going at once was awesome. I don't know enough words to effectively describe what I was experiencing. I took more pictures than I normally do, so I will have plenty to choose from for a trip album. As it turned out, taking a lot of photos was common activity.

The Balloon Glow is on

This was the first place I've seen photographic film vendors. They walked among the crowds of people yelling out, "Film, film get your film and cameras here!" The vendors were young people wearing a tray filled with Kodak film and single-use cameras. They looked very much like the vendors commonly seen at sporting events selling hot dogs and peanuts.

The sound of all those propane burners was very impressive

After the practice session, we were treated to four more glows before balloons were deflated. I was very glad that there were several glows, I just couldn't get enough with only one or two. Each time there was a new countdown to a glow, I would try to get into a new position for a view from a different location. There were so many balloons that, even with five glows, I was unable to see all the colorful, inflated globes.

This is one of many Shape balloons — A Wells Fargo stagecoach

When it was time for the balloons to be brought down, it was surprising just how fast they were all dropped to the ground, deflated and rolled up to be put into their respective vans, trailers or trucks. In less than 30 minutes the field was almost empty. It seemed somewhat strange to think of how the sky was filled with glowing, hot air balloons only a few minutes before, then nothing but darkness. As soon as the balloons were all down a fireworks show began.

The fireworks display would go on and on and on for the longest time. It was longer than I've ever seen for a fireworks show and it was a very good show as well. It was as if the fireworks show was designed to match the scale of the extravaganza we had just witnessed.

Balloons were traditional as well as shaped like commercial products

Our small group had come together to watch the fireworks display. After the show, we all headed back to the bus staging area. There were signs with names of various shopping centers located around Albuquerque. We found our way to the sign for the Cottonwood Mall where we found a line had already formed.

Our wait in line wasn't very long with one bus after another pulling into position as each bus filled with passengers. In a short time were back on a cramped school bus for our trip back to the shopping center. It was very nice to just climb on a bus and let the driver take us back to our cars bypassing all the heavy traffic. The return trip seemed shorter than when we arrived.

From the shopping mall parking lot, we took a back road that bypassed the city traffic. The drive through the darkness of the desert made for a peaceful ride through the country on our way back to camp. It was a pleasant way to end a very busy and exciting day.


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