LBN Newsnet’s coverage of Balloon Fiesta 2008

It’s the year 2008, and you know what that means: If there’s an event, especially an annual event, there’s probably the number “2008” behind the name, so you know beyond a reasonable doubt what year it is.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is no different. Like any reputable event, it is not just any old Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, it is Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2008, and it is proud of it, by gum, as proud as married cousins in Arkansas.

And why shouldn’t the Balloon Fiesta be proud? I mean, in these times, when people are coming close to suicidal tendencies from watching CNBC twenty-four hours a day, when America is inching closer and closer to imploding into a ball of uncontrollable economic destruction and doom, when even Libertarians are beginning to seriously consider the economic possibilities of Marxist Communism, these Balloon Fiesta people still, after all these years, wake up at four in the morning to inflate their $90,000 bags of hot gas. I mean, it takes a very special person to have that much obsession with balloons. And so I say the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2008 should be very, very proud of itself.

My mother and I left for the Balloon Fiesta this morning, as we leave every year, that is by car. We have learned by experience not to use any form of public transportation, regardless of who it is being used by or where it is going. Last year, we took the AIBF bus system, which used school buses to transport people to the Balloon Fiesta, and used tour buses to transport people from the Balloon Fiesta. Although we survived the trip, this was only due to our pluck and persistence of being. Many others died of various diseases, such as boredom, and, I’m guessing, AIDS.

Our little orange gas-guzzling SUV plodded its way to the parking lots of the Balloon Fiesta, ready to encounter whatever half-asleep drivers would dare to try plowing into our bumpers. We were ready for Balloon Fiesta Road Warrior, as we would engage in armed combat for the last parking spaces available.

The event we attended was the Special Shapes Rodeo. Those of you normal people who go to the Balloon Fiesta should know by now that this is the only event worth going to. The Special Shapes Rodeo has very special hot-air bags, which are not just giant upside down teardrops, but rather things like giant cute bears, giant cute cows, giant cute space shuttles, and giant cute anthropomorphic peanut advertisements. Frankly, this is the high point of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

The other thing you find at the Balloon Fiesta, at least in Albuquerque, is lots of balloon advertisements, not to mention Honda vehicles, because Honda makes the power generators for the whole shebang. The Balloon Fiesta is always filled with people, except for in the Honda booth, as Honda always has its Honda Ridgeline on display, which is a pickup truck that has had its attractiveness and useability surgically removed. I moved on to Cameron Balloons, as I wished to find how I could create my own special-shape balloon. It would look like this:

I am very creative, as you can see.

I plan for my balloon to be the first balloon where you can look underneath the shape’s clothing to see what other kinds of shapes are there. The rule of thumb for me is, if it doesn’t get banned from every city on planet Earth, it is not perverted enough. Then I will fly it to Pittsburgh, or directly over Jack Hannah’s house. I hope for an interesting response.

The thing about my plan is, hot air balloons cost money. Looking through a Cameron balloon catalogue, I saw numbers such as “35,935” and “90,746”. I asked the balloon salesman how much a special shape would cost.

“A lot more,” he said.

So, although I would love to, I will have to postpone my plans to fly a naked special shape wolf balloon over peoples’ houses. But, rest assured, when I do, you will know. And I assume you will prepare your shotguns.

But of course, a Balloon Fiesta is not complete without actually looking at the balloons. Before one does this, they must buy and consume at least one breakfast burrito and one hot cocoa. This is a law, and it shall be enforced by death. If you do not buy and consume a breakfast burrito, with potatoes, bacon, and green chile as primary ingredients, you will be regarded as a Texan, and Texans are disgusting subhuman creatures, even lower than people who buy naked special shape hot air balloons. Not even a funnel cake can take the place of a breakfast burrito. Unless you buy it with strawberry sauce and cream. And even then you must still consume the cocoa.

Then you have to look at the balloons. These balloons are huge, and they will be handled by dozens of people you’ve never heard of, pulling at strings and flipping levers and starting massive plumes of fire and essentially working like the crew on some kind of bizarre flying pirate ship.

The balloons take up the entire width of the sky. If you look to the north, you see balloons flying away. If you look to the south, you see balloons flying towards you. If you look to the east or west, you see balloons flying by. If you look overhead, chances are you’ll see a balloon fly overhead, hopefully with the pilot not dropping sand bags at the time.

My mother and I left for home after three hours of looking at balloons flying by, inflating, and lying on the ground, and we were ready to sleep. As we left, we heard of a fatality. Sadly, as seems to happen every year, a balloon hit an electrical line. One would think the pilots would learn not to hit electrical lines with their balloons, but they just keep on doing it, like lemmings. I think the FAA needs to retrain all its balloon pilots. Apparently, while enrolled in Hot Air Balloon Pilots’ School, they all got sick on “Don’t land in electrical lines” day.

Anyway, that’s it for Balloon Fiesta 2008. I could go on and on, but I will have to save more for Balloon Fiesta 2009. Assuming of course, they can afford to have “2009” behind the name. Otherwise, we couldn’t figure out what the year was. And that would be a shame.