Balloon Fiesta heightens security ahead of this year’s event

Balloon Fiesta

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – We are less than two weeks out from Albuquerque’s biggest event of the year. Balloon Fiesta staff and the City of Albuquerque are ramping up their safety measures this year.

People at the upcoming Balloon Fiesta will notice new additions.

“We continue to re-evaluate every year any changes we deem necessary,” public safety liaison Harry Season said.

Season said that means adding 60 walk-through metal detectors to the nine guest entrances as well as hand-wands to detect prohibited items at each gate. Prohibited items include blades longer than four inches, firearms, alcohol, drugs and non-service animals.

“The decision was made this year based on everything we have seen over the past year that we better go ahead and introduce the metal detectors,” Season said.

Mayor Tim Keller said this announcement comes in the wake of mass shootings across the country like the deadly shooting at an El Paso Walmart last month that killed 22 people.

“I think we have all seen all around the country the challenges that unfortunately are real in America today,” Mayor Keller said.

There will also be more bag check stations with Keller acknowledging that these new measures may create longer waits.

“Of course, there is going to be some lines people are not used to,” Mayor Keller said. “However, the measures when it comes to express lines and trying to have it adequately staffed… We are going to do the best we can and adapt as we go along,” Keller said.

Plus, there will be more law enforcement both in and around the fiesta from more than 20 federal, state and local agencies equipped for any situation.

“We are not looking at one specific thing,” Season said. “We will look at the whole thing and be prepared as we can be.”

Officials said the cost to lease the metal detectors is already worked into the Balloon Fiesta budget.

Park staff said they received a threat analysis from the federal government this week that indicated there is no threat directed at the Balloon Fiesta at this time.

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