Mass ascension launches New Mexico balloon event after COVID-19 hiatus


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.

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