Balloon Fiesta Cancelled?
It certainly is frustrating that Balloon Fiesta has been cancelled this year due to concerns with CoVid. Several of my pilot friends had been discussing and silently hoping that the Fiesta Board would opt to have some form of Fiesta. For some reason, non-pilots think that Fiesta called all the pilots and asked us our opinion. The reality is that we were just as much in the dark as everyone else. When it was cancelled, friends asked if I was sad. Truth is, I really was. We have flown the last twenty years in Fiesta. Not only is it an amazing sight, balloons filling the sky, but it's a chance to visit with friends that we only see once a year. We have friends/crew that join us yearly from California,Louisiana and Florida. They will be missed this year.
Here are my thoughts as to why CoVid caused Fiesta 2020 to be cancelled.
1) Obvious safety concerns with huge crowds of spectators, crews, pilots, Fiesta staff and vendors. If you have never been to Fiesta its a "sea of humanity" every morning.
2) Could we do a limited Fiesta, perhaps just the weekends? (See #1 above).
3) Could we do a smaller crowd Fiesta? Cars start lining up for Fiesta around 4:00 AM. They often fight traffic and wait in lines for an hour to get to the field and park. Can you imagine the frustration of loading the kids up in the car at 3:30 AM, waiting in line, and having some nice parking attendant say "Sorry, we are only letting in 1000 people and you are person number 1001, have a great day'!
4) With a smaller crowd, vendors have less chance to make a profit. They already run a risk that the weather does not cooperate and spectators stay away. Now with limited access, they are assured to loose money. And besides, who wants to go to Fiesta if you cant get a burrito and a funnel cake!
5) There was some talk about doing a "virtual" Fiesta. I have watched Fiesta on a TV and sadly, it just doesn't do the colors or the magnitude any sense of justice.
The bottom line, as difficult as it was, the Fiesta Board opted to do the safest thing they could. Safety of spectators, staff, pilots and crew is their main priority, Just as on days when the weather is marginal and they make the painful decision to cancel flight operations, it's to protect all involved.
Next year, our friends will again join us for Fiesta and we will laugh and reminisce about the "Fiesta that never was". The virus will hopefully be under control and we will fill the skies again with the majestic balloons of every size, shape and color! Until then,
Stay healthy and be safe!
Hot Air Balloonatics LLC