Sneak Peek: Balloon Fiesta 2018 welcomes new special shapes

Balloon Fiesta
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New animals, fun characters and even an emoji hot air balloon will make their debut at Balloon Fiesta next month. 

Officials are finalizing the list of new special shapes you’ll see this year, and a famous painter and a replica of a famous statue are sure to be crowd favorites. 

“We got approximately 20 special shapes coming this year that have never been here before,” says Director of Operations Sam Parks. 

There’s “Bila the Bear” from Albuquerque, “Cynthia the Seal,” an owl and two dogs all ready to fly. 

“We got balloons coming from Brazil, United Kingdom, Great Britain, Portugal, Netherlands,” says Parks.

You’ve seen the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer looking over Rio de Janeiro. Now, a 140-foot tall balloon version will look over Albuquerque. 

On top of that, an inflatable portrait of Vincent Van Gogh will mesmerize you. Like the artist, the balloon hails from the Netherlands. 

“They did all that digitally,” says Parks. “Computerized printing so they can actually roll out some fabric and colorize it in the printing ink when they create the cloth. They actually print in that, then coat it to make it air tight.” 

There’s also a mix of quirky new characters including “Ratcheese” and “Pirate Jack.”

“Rocket” flies in from Florida, while a soccer ball jams out next to a saxophone; and you’ll get a kick out of the new 120-foot boot. 

“The kids love the special [shapes], so we really love having them here,”

“Woozi the Robot” and an emoji are sure to be favorites with the kids. 

A wolf and lovable koala are also on their way, along with the penguins and other popular balloons that will return this year, including Darth Vader, Yoda and the bee family. 

You’ll enjoy a total of 99 special shape balloons, among the 550. 

The unique, giant creations can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000 plus. 

“It takes a lot of hours, a lot of sewing and a lot of engineering to go into one of these,” says Parks. 

It’s not always easy navigating them, either. 

“Once you get up there, it just moves right with the wind, but it’s the up and down that gets more complicated,” explains Parks. 

This year is special. There are two balloons that have never missed a special shapes rodeo since it started 30 years ago. 

Chic-I-Boom and Uncle Sam will be honored with a special patch. 

While a lot of them go up every day at Fiesta, Thursday and Friday are reserved solely for the special shapes — they fly in the morning and glow at night. 

Super Bike, one of the largest balloons weighing 1,700 pounds, will not be here this year. That’s because the owners are bringing their Van Gogh Balloon instead. 

So far, 18 new special shape balloons are signed up, but a couple more could be added to the list in the next few weeks. 

Ms. Lansford’s 3rd grade class from Bandelier Elementary made a video announcing the new special shapes.

Photos: 2018 Balloon Fiesta Special Shapes Preview

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