Balloon Fiesta was a bittersweet event for some people Thursday morning, as a globe honoring balloonists Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer-Davis, who died off the coast of Italy just over four years ago, was unveiled outside the Balloon Museum.

Nancy Abruzzo said seeing the sky filled with what her late husband loved – balloons – brings her and her two kids some peace.

“Here we are…with the sun breaking through and all these balloons kind of christening it overhead…that’s pretty special,” Abruzzo said Thursday morning.

Her husband Richard, of Albuquerque, disappeared along with his co-pilot Davis during a gas balloon race off the coast of Italy. Their bodies were found a few months later.

“You know, it’s never easy to reflect year in and year out,” Abruzzo said.

The city honored Richard and Rymer-Davis with an etched world globe. Mayor Richard Berry was a close friend of Abruzzo’s from college.

“They’re reminding us every day to keep pushing forward,” Berry said.

The globe sits outside the Balloon Fiesta Museum with a quote that Nancy holds close to her heart.

“It will certainly put a smile [on my face] every time I walk by it, so I hope that’s the same for everybody who comes out,” she said.

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It’s another cool start to the morning and Balloon Fiesta, but not as cold as some years in the past. Temperatures are sitting in the 50s. Winds right now are pretty calm, but upper level winds are a bit stronger, which was a similar setup to Monday’s morning weather.

Highs will climb in to the high 70s and 80s later in the day. On Wednesday and Thursday, more moisture could move in which may affect Balloon Fiesta launches.

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Sunday’s Balloon Fiesta mass ascension didn’t go quite as planned as windy weather meant no mass ascension, and some pilots even struggled to put their balloons on display on the ground. After a couple hours at the field, some people wondered if anything would happen at all.

“We have been waiting and waiting for so long,” said 5-year-old Rosa Marsh-Martinez.

Fiesta fans like Marsh-Martinez were left biding their time while weather delayed all the action.

“I am waiting for the balloons to go up,” she said.

The theme at balloon fiesta this year is “Spirit of the Winds,” and the winds were a little too spirited for the pilots Sunday. Event organizers ended up canceling the ascension due to safety concerns, but said pilots could blow up their balloons and keep them on the ground.

“It is unfortunate we are not going to be able to fly right now,” said Jack Ponticelli, pilot of the Carolina Kaleidoscope balloon.

Even by the time the sun came up, no balloons dotted the skies, and that’s when pilots started prepping to show them off from the ground though.

That was good news for long-time Fiesta visitors like 5-year-old Mikka Curtis, who has been going since she was six-weeks old. There is one balloon she looks forward to each year.

“Spider pig! Spider pig!” she sang while showing off her Spider-Man hat.

Curtis’ mom volunteers as a launch director, making sure everyone stays safe while balloons get ready to go up.

“It is something that has been in the family. My stepfather is actually a launch director as well. My sister was,” Kat Brennan said. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my October.”

Even on a day like Sunday where things didn’t go quite as planned, families made the most of it.

The windy weather also caused a small delay at the evening glow, but the balloons did inflate for a beautiful show. Hundreds of the balloons were able to light up the Balloon Fiesta Park.

Some say it was not as crowded as they expected, and it was likely because of the wind. Those who did make it said they were thrilled to have gotten that chance to experience the glow up close and personal.

Approximately 550 pilots are taking part in this year’s Balloon Fiesta, which runs until Oct. 12. The event draws tens of thousands of spectators from around the world. Organizers say the atmosphere is unlike any other with few boundaries for attendees.

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Officials say the first day of Balloon Fiesta went off without a hitch Saturday.

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A long waited New Mexico tradition kicked off Saturday morning for the 43rd year. Balloon Fiesta officials are calling the first day a success, and so are fiesta goers.

Balloon Fiesta officials say everything went off without a hitch on the first day of this year’s festivities. Picture perfect ballooning weather made for a beautiful mass ascension.

Balloons launched as planned early in the morning as massive crowds cheered them on and all of them landed safely. People from all over the world were in Albuquerque for the very popular event. KRQE News 13 caught up with folks from Lebanon, Greenland and Chile.

Many first time fiesta goers were in awe by the sheer number of balloons in the sky. Yet, even veteran fiesta goers say it’s something they look forward to every year.

Pilots and spectators alike say one of their favorite parts of Balloon Fiesta is sharing it with others.

“I enjoy the crowds, I enjoy the people and having a special shaped balloon, you’re larger than life animated balloon and so people love to come out, they love to see the shapes and we love to be a part of that excitement,” Bob Romaneschi.

News 13 also spoke to a few crews who said they had a little trouble getting their balloons off the ground Saturday morning but were optimistic they’d have more success later in the week.

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) – The mass ascension of hundreds of hot air balloons above Albuquerque went off without a hitch Saturday morning. Pilots began launching shortly after 7:00 a.m. at the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

The majority of balloons appeared to be floating south and winds were about 4 mph, officials said. The balloons are poised to land in downtown, Kirtland Air Force Base or in northeast Albuquerque, they said.

This year’s colorful balloons include one shaped like the head of Yoda and another like Darth Vader from “Star Wars.”

Organizers have equipped all 550 pilots with tablet computers capable of running a mapping application that will enable them to steer clear of the many restricted areas or prohibited zones like airport flight paths, the zoo and other locations.

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Santa Fe drivers traveling to Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta should see few delays

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque begins Saturday and ends Oct. 12. The 360-acre Park with 100 acres of grass and booths will be filled with balloons and concessions. Clyde Mueller/The New Mexican

By Chris Quintana
The New Mexican


The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which attracts thousands of people from around the world who come to see hundreds of hot air balloons ascend into Albuquerque’s pristine skies, lifts off Saturday morning and runs through Oct. 12.

People driving from Santa Fe should plan to leave in the early morning hours if they want to avoid traffic and catch all the festival has to offer.

Tom Garrity, a spokesman for the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, said that he recommends arriving at the Balloon Fiesta Park by 4:30 or 5 a.m., meaning that Santa Feans should depart by 3 or 3:30 a.m. if they want to be there when the first balloons go up.

“You will not have a problem getting in if you’re pulling up at 5 a.m.” Garrity said.

The dawn patrol, a select crew of early balloonists, takes off at 5:45 a.m. At 6:15 a.m., there is a pilot briefing, where crews decide if conditions are good enough for the rest of the balloons to go up.

If the flights are canceled, the organizers will announce the news via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Mass ascension, when the majority of balloonists take off, begins at about 7 a.m. most days.

Night events only take place on Oct. 4, 5, 9, 10 and 11. The night glow events, where the balloons are inflated but don’t take off, usually start around 5:45 p.m.

General parking costs $10 per vehicle, and admission to the park is $8 per session. Children 12 and under are free.

Those coming from Santa Fe should take the Tramway/Roy Road exit off Interstate 25 to the Pan American Freeway, which leads to the Balloon Fiesta grounds. Garrity said police will be on scene and directing traffic.

The state Department of Transportation has scheduled bridge work on I-25 at Waldo Canyon about one mile north of the La Bajada rest area. There will only be one lane going north and south weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. But no work is scheduled on the weekends of Oct. 4-5 and Oct. 11-12 due to the Balloon Fiesta.

Park and ride service also is available. Garrity said the stop at Intel, 1600 Rio Rancho Blvd. SE, or Cliff’s Amusement Park, 4800 Osuna Road NE, would be the most convenient for those coming from Santa Fe. The shuttles start running at 4:30 a.m. and continue until 7 a.m. The last shuttle leaves Balloon Fiesta Park at 11 a.m.

For the afternoon session, bus service starts at 3:30 p.m. with the last bus leaving for Balloon Fiesta Park at 6:30 p.m. Return service begins at 7:30 p.m. and ends at 9:30 p.m., although there is limited bus service until all guests have departed.

Only credit cards are accepted for payment at the remote sites.

Park and ride prices, which include admission to the Balloon Fiesta, vary according to when you buy the tickets. Advanced purchase is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $6 for children ages 6 to 12. Children 5 and under are free. Tickets purchased at the bus stops are $20 for adults and seniors, and $10 for children ages 6 to 12.

Contact Chris Quintana at 986-3093 or Follow him on Twitter at @CQuintanaSF.

Balloon fiesta

When: Oct. 4-12

Where: Balloon Fiesta Park, 4401 Alameda Blvd. NE, Albuquerque

Cost: Parking $10, admission $8. Park and rise also available.