If last week was full of excitement, this week is flat out frantic. Basically 10 days to go and everyone, staff, volunteers and mostly likely all the participants are in the near final stages of preparation. Of course the Balloon Fiesta Stuff crew has been in high gear for months now.
Hopefully by now you have purchased what you wanted for the big event. We did make a couple of tweaks to the online store after last week's What's Up Wednesday. Those categories we linked to, they actually exist now. Sorry for any confusion.
There actually is one new item we wanted you to know about. It's the Official Program. This year it's 270+ pages and weighs in at nearly 2 pounds!!! In additional to the usual great articles and a listing of all the balloons, there's a lot of history packed into the collector's item and it's still only $10. Of course, there are a few other items that have arrived as well. Check out the entire store to make sure you haven't missed anything.
If your shopping is nearly complete, here's some event info for you.
While the official kick-off of Balloon Fiesta is Saturday, Oct 1, we really start things off on Friday, Sept 30 with Albuquerque Aloft. This year about 200 pilots will take their balloons to metro area elementary schools. Kids, parents and of course school staff are all invited to come see the balloons close up. Some pilots will stay on the ground to let everyone get a closeup view. Others will fly away. Extra special this year is a Tribute Flight at Coronado Shopping Center. 13 pilots, representing the 13 original pilots from 1972 will set up in the mall parking lot where it all began. 3 of the 4 still living original pilots are scheduled to be in attendance. Those that have passed will be represented by their families. It's going to be a very special and moving, free event.
Saturday morning, before Dawn Patrol lights up the sky, we're adding a brand new aerial show. We can't tell you what it is. You'll have to be on the field to see it. It starts at 5:45, which means you have to get up even early that first day. Of course that's not a bad idea anyway, as drivers are always confused on the traffic patterns. Those "original" 13 balloons will be present for the Krispy Kreme glow just before the Mass Ascension. And don't forget America's Challenge Gas Balloon Event, the 25th, is scheduled to launch its long distance race Saturday afternoon/evening, just before the Twilight Twinkle Balloon Glow.
Sunday is another Mass Ascension and Balloon Glow day.
Monday and Tuesday are competition days. Half the balloons fly from the field on a fun flight, while the competitors launch off field and attempt to fly into the field. So you get to see balloons coming and going.
Wednesday features our international pilots with the Flight of Nations preceding our Mass Ascension.
Approximately 120 Special Shapes take center field on Thursday and Friday with AM flights, and PM glows.
The second Saturday brings us back to a Mass Ascension and Glow, shortly after the conclusion of Music Fiesta.
And then, sadly its all over after Sunday's Mass Ascension.
Can't make it in person? You can watch all the action, live, from all 14 sessions, plus the special Tribute Flight on Sept 30. It's online at Balloon Fiesta Live! under the This Year menu. or click balloonfiesta.com/live-stream.
BTW, Balloon Fiesta Stuff staff will be working the Monday and Tuesday after Balloon Fiesta to inventory and restock both the gift shop and the online store. We'll alert you about post-event shopping and product availability right here on What's Up Wednesday.
Next week, it's about getting access to the best selection of merchandise on the field, without the lines, and no admission or parking charges.
Thanks for your support of Balloon Fiesta!