Balloon Fiesta attendance leaves traffic at standstill

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – For a third night in a row, the balloon glow at Balloon Fiesta Park fizzled out and weather is once again being blamed. Another cancelled balloon glow is only one reason fiesta goers left upset Saturday night.

Some described their day as a living nightmare. Saturday morning, some fiesta goers didn’t even make it into the park. Then once the sunset, it was déjà vu after the traffic mess continued.

Cars were at a stand-still and people getting pretty frustrated.

There was the mass ascension in the morning and then a mass exodus when a storm rolled through Saturday night. Getting out of the park was much easier said than done.

“It is a mess to get through here,” Camille Garcia said. “So, I’m sure it’s going to be a mess to get out.”

Sky News 13 flew above I-25 Saturday evening, where traffic was just inching along, even on the frontage road. A few crashes really snarled things up between Alameda and Tramway for those hoping to see the balloon glow.

Then, if you were lucky enough to even make it into the park, the winds and rain came at around 7 and the green flag was quickly replaced with a red flag.

People scrambled for the gates and into the parking lots.

KRQE News 13 heard from some who say they were waiting at least an hour in traffic to get out and that a few people had even made threats towards uniformed officers directing that traffic.

Some vendors forked over hundreds of dollars for parking permits and they were stuck in some of the worst of the mess.

News 13 reached out to Balloon Fiesta officials about the fiasco. However, they couldn’t tell us much, only referring us to APD, who handles the traffic getting in and out of the park.

Not many people were expecting all of this mess going into the evening hours.

But it wasn’t the first time there was trouble Saturday.

During the morning hours, parking attendants were turning drivers away. Police say the 7 designated parking lots, that fit roughly 1,200 cars, were full. An APD spokesman says some people even pulled over on the freeway to watch the events.

“It took us two hours in line, waiting in our vehicle to get parked and everything and we came out here to find out people are leaving because they fear the weather,” one fiesta attendee said.

The “Park and Ride” line to leave Saturday night was also slow moving. APD did tell News 13 earlier in the day they encourage people to use it.

News 13 called APD later Saturday night hoping to ask why things got so out of hand traffic-wise. They did not get back to us.

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