The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta came to Corrales last week with as many as 60 balloons taking off from the recreation center one day.
Balloons had been taking off but mostly landing all week in four open spaces the village designated for hot air balloons during the nine-day event that ran from Oct. 7-15. But never has Corrales seen as many balloons launch from within its village limits than it did on Friday, Oct. 13.
Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Siverts said he’s never seen anything like it since he’s been around. He suspected there might be some activity when he checked the weather when he woke up that morning as saw winds were out of the northwest.
“It’s not like this is a planned event, ever,” he said. “The wind has to be perfect for them to be here.”
Siverts explained that there are balloon pilot competitions held at Balloon Fiesta Park, not much more than a mile away as the crow, and balloons, flies. Pilots are awarded points for successfully dropping markers within targets laid out on the fiesta grounds. When the wind is blowing southeast, the balloons are set up for a good approach to the target area from Corrales.
“There are some years we don’t get many at all,” he said, but that morning made up for all that. “Tons of balloons showed up. Not only were they on our (soccer) field, we had them in the horse arena, the Jones property, and down at the Gonzales property.”
Siverts said all the activity didn’t require much work on his part. “All we did was take pictures,” he said.
The balloonists worked cooperatively and marshaled themselves.
“They do this at the balloon park themselves; everyone knows what they’re doing. They line themselves up perfectly – in about 5 rows of 10 or 11. After they left, more balloons took off,” he said.
While Siverts and other early risers who happened upon the spectacle were able to enjoy the sight, plenty of advance work was done ahead of time.
The village always lets the fiesta know that balloons are welcome to land there during the Fiesta. Siverts even chaperoned fiesta officials around to show them what properties were available as landing areas. The lots are marked with a large X visible from above.
“We have a really good relationship with the balloon fiesta and we have some big open fields,” Siverts said. “Pilots know about us.”