Mass ascension launches balloon event after COVID-19 hiatus

State & Regional

FILE – In this Oct. 6, 2019, file photo, hot air balloons fly over Albuquerque, N.M., during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The balloon festival is returning after a pandemic hiatus with plans to launch about 540 hot-air balloons in a stunning visual spectacle. The nine-day event starts Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. (Jerry Larson/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Hundreds of hot-air balloons created a colorful tapestry against a blue sky in New Mexico’s largest city, kicking off a nine-day annual event that was canceled last year due to the pandemic.

Saturday morning’s mass ascension was the first of five scheduled for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

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

Organizers say more than 540 balloons are registered for this year’s event.

Fiesta organizers say they won’t be checking for vaccination cards.

But they noted precautions are being taken to preserve social distancing and provide access to hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations.

(Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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