ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Light winds on the second day of the annual Albuquerque balloon fiesta led to a longer-than-usual launch window for the morning mass ascent, but great flying weather prevailed.
Despite having to wait longer for the hot air balloons to drift away and clear the launch site Sunday morning, once they were up there was just one small glitch among the more than 500 balloons, fiesta spokesman Tom Garrity said.
One balloon came down on a light pole, but the Albuquerque Fire Department said there were no injuries.
A cross-country race featuring five hydrogen-filled balloons was set to launch Sunday evening. The five balloons will likely drift with the jet stream for about three days, with the last to land winning the America's Challenge.
The race was postponed a day to allow prevailing winds to shift more easterly, which will allow for a longer race.
Sunday morning's mass ascension featured a tribute to balloonists who had died since last year's event. The more than 500 balloons that launched bore purple streamers in remembrance.
Hot air balloon competitions are set for Monday and Tuesday, with about 400 balloons competing. After a midweek break and mass ascent, more competition on Thursday and Friday is followed by a repeat of this weekend's events — mass launches and nighttime glows, topped off with fireworks Saturday and a final mass ascent Sunday morning.
An estimated 700,000 people are expected to attend events, a fall staple in Albuquerque.