ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Every year since 2005, Albuquerque Public School students get a preview of the Balloon Fiesta before it officially begins. The Friday before the Balloon Fiesta kicks off, balloon pilots go to schools across Albuquerque to launch or tether their balloons for the community to see as part of the Albuquerque Aloft program.
Lichele Peete was one of the pilots who visited Los Padillas Elementary School Friday morning. She’s been ballooning for over 40 years and said she loves participating in the event to show kids how the balloon works.
Even though the balloon didn’t get to go up due to weather conditions, she said she was happy just to be back after the hiatus caused by COVID-19. “This is the unofficial start of Balloon Fiesta and by getting up close and personal with elementary schools around Albuquerque is really great. Sometimes kids can’t make it out to Fiesta, so this is a good opportunity,” said Peete.
Parents, students and staff gathered outside early Friday morning to meet the crew and watch the balloon get set up. While they didn’t get to see the balloon leave the ground, students were still excited to see the fire from the burner and to learn fun facts about hot air balloons.
“I learned that Albuquerque is the best place for balloons because of the box effect,” said third-grader Faith.
“I liked the fire because it was warm,” said another student.
The event is the only Balloon Fiesta event where balloons launch outside of the Balloon Fiesta Park. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is set to kick off Saturday, Oct. 2, and runs through Oct. 10.