Tue. Jan 18th, 2022
NM (AP) - Hundreds of hot air balloons floated in the sky over New Mexico's largest city.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Hundreds of hot-air balloons floated over the sky in New Mexico’s largest city, beginning off a nine-day annual event that was canceled last year due to the epidemic.

The ascension of the masses, which took place at 7 a.m., was the first of five planned for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which attracts spectators from all over the world. As a precaution against the spread of COVID-19, the 2020 fiesta has been canceled. Over 540 balloons were registered for this year’s event, according to organizers. Nearly 600 balloons were brought in from all over the United States and 17 other countries for the 2019 fiesta.

Organizers of the Fiesta said they won’t be checking for vaccination cards, but they would take steps to maintain social distance and provide hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations. The balloon pilots’ and VIPs’ indoor dining has been canceled. Rather than being gathered together, more than 80 balloons in special ornate or cartoonish patterns will be dispersed over the launch field, allowing audiences to spread out, according to fiesta spokesperson Tom Garrity. A chain saw carving display, fireworks, skydivers, musical stage acts, and a strolling mariachi band are among the scheduled festivities.

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