For those of you already familiar with us, you probably know that while not the main reason we decided to retire in the Albuquerque area of New Mexico, a decided benefit of living here is being able to experience the annual International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.
I have another post in this blog about the Balloon Fiesta, which includes many of my favorite photos taken over the past few years. With each new year, I now try to get at least a few pictures either of things I have not photographed previously, or from different perspectives. If a picture turns out particularly well, it will get included in my master list of favorite balloon fiesta photos. Here is one that I took this year which will likely be included in that master list.
This year marked a few new activities as well. I decided to become involved in some volunteer work, this year for the International Hot Air Balloon Museum. Next year, I plan to also do some volunteering for the Balloon Fiesta Organization which has more than 1000 volunteers each year participating in various activities during the nine days of Balloon Fiesta.
One of my volunteer activities this year included working as an usher at the 4D Theater inside the balloon museum. We show two short films every 15 minutes throughout the day.
- One film features an overview of the history of Balloon Fiesta, back from its beginning in 1972 when 13 balloons took off from the parking lot of a local mall. It is now in its current location in the massive Balloon Fiesta Park, which this year accommodated 665 registered balloons, and over 800,000 visitors from all around the world.
- The second film shows the audience what it is like to participate in a hot air balloon ride. It also showcases the activity of the balloon pilot and his or her crew. Not only do we have both male and female pilots, I believe our youngest pilot this year was a 16 year old girl.
I also had a chance this year to participate as a member of one of the balloon crews. Karen, a fellow docent of mine at the Albuquerque Zoo, asked me to help with their crew at Balloon Fiesta this year. Her husband Johnny is a pilot and their balloon is named the “Rising Star”. Here are a few pictures taken when we went out to an elementary school to do a demonstration the day before Balloon Fiesta began.
My other volunteer activity this year with the balloon museum was to drive a courtesy golf cart back and forth between the museum and the Balloon Fiesta field. I will definitely do that again next year, perhaps for the Balloon Fiesta Organization which will give me more access to taking visitors around the balloon fiesta field.
Balloons referred to as “Special Shapes” are always a highlight of the Balloon Fiesta. Most people don’t realize that balloons do indeed come in many very unique and often recognizable shapes. Many, if not most, of the special shape balloons, are made in Brazil. Here are a few pics of some from this year, including one which is brand new – Vincent Van Gogh. He is a pretty intimidating dude!
Working both at the 4D Theater, and as a courtesy cart driver, really allows interaction with visitors, whom not only come from all around the U.S., but from many other countries as well. After Balloon Fiesta completes, I hope to soon begin training to become a docent at the Balloon Museum so that I might lead tours year round.
Between the Balloon Museum, the Albuquerque Zoo, the pet rescue and adoptions that Lucas and I help out, a local Episcopal Food Pantry, and now also the occasional balloon crewing I will do with “Rising Star”, that should keep me busy during retirement.