Balloonists make final preparations for Fiesta

Posted at: 10/04/2013 11:03 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Tomorrow, the 42nd annual Balloon Fiesta will welcome 600 balloons, with balloonists from 35 states and 18 countries.

The Fiesta is like the Super Bowl for balloonists.

The park on Friday evening was electric in a happy, anxious, excited way for the balloonists already at the field.

The field is trimmed, the tents are up, and KOB Eyewitness News 4 met one balloonist who's been flying since he was 19.

As the sun sets over Balloon Fiesta Park, there's a chill in the air.

"I'm excited for the weather," said balloonist Tarp Head.

For a veteran balloonist like Head, the night before Balloon Fiesta is like Christmas Eve. 

"This is my 40th year ballooning and my 40th year coming to Albuquerque," said Head.

Four decades have come and gone since head's first "balloon Christmas" -- he started out flying a little balloon to promote his hometown of Helen, Georgia.

"Came out here and had a great time. Been coming ever since," he said.

The coolest gift each season? Head says it's the changing view.

"I've seen this city change dramatically," he said. "It's grown from a small town into a major city."

On this Balloon Fiesta's eve, he's got a few concerns about the wind, but he's cautiously optimistic about Saturday's lift-off.

"It's going to calm down," said Head. "The forecast is going to calm down and we'll have some beautiful weather."

Just like Christmas, Tarp said Saturday's best ballooning will be for the early birds.

"They'll see a lot of balloons in the morning," said Head.