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Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum
Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum Review
This dramatic museum celebrates the city's legacy as the hot-air ballooning capital of the world. The dashing, massive facility is named for Maxie Anderson and Ben Abruzzo, who pioneered ballooning in Albuquerque and were part of a team of three aviators who made the first manned hot-air balloon crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in 1978. You'll understand why this museum is so large when you see the exhibits—including several historic balloons, and both large- and small-scale replicas of balloons and zeppelins. You'll also see vintage balloon baskets, china and flatware from the ill-fated Hindenburg and an engaging display on that tragic craft, and dynamic displays that trace the history of the sport, dating back to the first balloon ride, in 1783. Kids can design their own balloons at one creative interactive exhibit. There's a large museum shop offering just about any book or product you could imagine related to hot-air ballooning.
The museum anchors Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta Park, home to the legendary Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which began in 1972 and runs for nearly two weeks in early October. Albuquerque's history of ballooning dates from 1882, when Professor Park A. Van Tassel, a saloon keeper, ascended in a balloon at the Territorial Fair. During the fiesta, the largest hot-air-balloon gathering anywhere, you can watch the Special Shapes Rodeo, when hundreds of unusual balloons, including depictions of the old lady who lived in the shoe, the pink pig, and dozens of other fanciful characters from fairy tales and popular culture, soar high above more than a million spectators. There are night flights, obstacle races, and many other surprising balloon events. Book your hotel far in advance if you plan to attend, and note that hotel rates also rise during the fiesta. 505/821-1000 or 888/422-7277. www.balloonfiesta.com.
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