Albuquerque’s Balloon Festival Flying High

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Hundreds of hot-air balloons created a colorful tapestry against a blue sky today as New Mexico’s largest city began a nine-day annual event that was canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 7 a.m. mass ascension was the first of five scheduled for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, a heavily photographed event that draws visitors from around the world.

The 2020 fiesta was canceled as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19.

Organizers said over 540 balloons were registered for this year’s event from across the U.S. and 17 other countries.

Fiesta organizers said they won’t be checking for vaccination cards but noted precautions are being taken to preserve social distancing and provide access to hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations.

Indoor dining for balloon pilots and VIPs has been canceled.

Scheduled events include a chainsaw carving display, fireworks, sky divers, musical stage performances and a strolling mariachi band and a number of other festivities with thousands of participants.

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