I don't know about you, but the first thing I asked myself was: Who in the heck are Anderson and Abruzzo? As it turns out, if you weren't born and raised in Albuquerque, that's a very interesting question. If you were, and you're over the age of 30, you probably think I'm a complete idiot for even asking the question in the first place.
1882—In previous years, carnivals occasionally came through Albuquerque featuring hot air balloons. In 1882, however, a local saloon owner named Park A. VanTassel used coal gas to fill a 30,000-cubic-foot balloon. Over the two days it took to fill the balloon, enthusiastic coal gas customers volunteered to go without gas service. On July 4, VanTassel floated above the city, marking the first hot air balloon ascension by a local in Albuquerque history.
Here's the whole enchilada—a full roster of Fiesta events that includes descriptions of a few special happenings that might not be self-explanatory. Tear this out and staple it to your chest for easy reference.
Entrance to Balloon Fiesta Park is $6 general, free for kids under 12. You can buy advanced tickets in packs of five for $25. General parking is $5 per car. An all-event parking pass costs $30. (The Fiesta's park-and-ride service will save you a lot of stress. Details at aibf.org.) To order tickets over the phone, call (888) 422-7277 ext. 303. Keep in mind if you're a cheapskate that there will be lots of good views of balloons located all over town where you won't have to pay a dime.
Want to go for a ride yourself? All paid balloon rides are coordinated through Rainbow Ryders, 823-1111. Also, if you volunteer as a member of a balloon chase crew, you might be able to milk a freebie out of a pilot. You can register at the park or online at the Balloon Fiesta website. For more information, go to aibf.org or call 821-1000.