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Huge crowds attend Albuquerque balloon show

Tens of thousands of people recently gathered for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The show ran between the 4th and 12th October, with so many people turning up for the event on Saturday that some had to be turned away. Daren DeAguero, a spokesperson for the Albuquerque Police Department, said that on that day the car parks were full and some visitors were unable to come in. Many roads in the area also came to a standstill. The fiesta was first held in 1972, with only 13 balloons attending the event, which was sponsored by a local radio station. Today, it is considered the largest ballooning event in the world. In a typical year, 750 balloons and their crews gather for the festivities. Each year, participants and attendees spend around £56m ($90M) in the area. Rick Elliot, who owns a business in Old Town, commented:
“This is sort of an early Christmas down here you could say."
The Albuquerque Visitors Bureau is still adding up the figures, but the early signs are that most local restaurants, hotels, bars, and shops had a good year. While not all hotels were fully booked in advance, they seem to have filled up over the week. Once again, Special Shapes Rodeo proved to be one of the most popular hot air balloon flights, particularly with families. Many watched the Yoda and Darth Vader balloons, while dozens of other shaped envelopes, including a frog, a penguin and a fire truck, joined them. First into the air was the Spider Pig.
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