Chicago Sun-Times
With Lori Rackl

Be a part of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

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You can do more than just watch the balloons fill the sky during the nine-day festival in October, although being a spectator is pretty cool in and of itself. And it's cheap, too, costing only $6 for those 13 and older, free for kids.

Rainbow Ryders is the fiesta's sole balloon vendor authorized to take off from the park. You'll want to call in advance to book a flight, which cost $325 per person this year. But even if you don't book ahead, there's a good chance you can sign up for a ride at the Rainbow Ryders tent. Call 1-800-725-2477 or visit Rainbowryders.com.

If you want to be a part of the action but don't want to do it from the sky, consider volunteering for a spot on a chase crew. The chase crew basically helps inflate and deflate the balloon, among other things. A spot on the crew is open to adults 18 and older. Call the Balloon Fiesta to register at 888-422-7277 or register at the Chase Crew Tower on the field around 5 a.m.

If you are going to attend next year's event, try to schedule your visit so you can catch the Special Shape Rodeo as well as a general mass ascension. And don't miss the evenings, when tethered balloons glow under the dark sky.

One other tip: You can pay the $10 to park and watch the events from the roof of your car. That way you avoid paying general admission, which isn't much to begin with at $6.

And remember to book your hotel room early, because an estimated 800,000 people flock to Albuquerque for the popular event.

Bon voyage....

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This page contains a single entry by Lori Rackl published on October 24, 2007 4:49 AM.

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