Albuquerque raises stakes, budget for fireworks event

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The city is preparing for its biggest party of the year this weekend, and KRQE News 13 has learned they are spending more for a bigger “Freedom Fourth” celebration that could have a bigger economic impact.

“Freedom Fourth” has become an Albuquerque favorite, but the city says the event is attracting more eyes from across New Mexico.

“They come out en masses from across the state,” said Gilbert Montaño, chief of staff for Albuquerque Mayor R.J. Berry.

At the 2014 event, the city says around 60,000 people came out to the fireworks, free concert and family entertainment event.

This Saturday at the 2015 Freedom Fourth, the city’s expecting a lot more in attendance.

“I think we really plan on having about 80,000 [people] this year,” said Montaño.

So what’s behind the expected surge in people?

The city says it has to do with the bigger budget. They’re spending $220,000 on the entire event this year. That’s up about $40,000 compared to 2014’s event.

Part of it’s going for a more expensive musical act, Thompson Square, but there’s something else too.

“Really the marketing , the marketing plan,” said Montaño.

The city says it’s advertised “Freedom Fourth” as far as Clovis and Farmington this year.

“This is the biggest, largest, most exciting fireworks show in the entire state,” said Montaño.

The hope is that it draws in more out-of-towners who will spend more money to stay, shop and dine in Albuquerque.

“It would be beneficial if we really expanded it through the entire state and really turned it into an economic generator,” said Montaño on the expansion of the event.

The city says a lot of out-of-towners have been getting involved in the successful “Firecracker Café.” The special event comes with special VIP treatment.

“The big difference is and you’re going to have premiere front row stage viewing area,” said Montaño.

Tickets to the Firecracker Café include front row concert seats, a reserve firework viewing area, dinner, and access to a private road with reserved parking to avoid the traffic. This year, the event’s tickets have spiked as well, from between $15 to $30, to now $25 to $50 depending on the ticket holder’s age.

“We sell out every year,” said Montaño. “Really we found a lot of folks from out of town are buying the tickets and enjoying it.”

The big draw is of course the free fireworks show. That will be about the same size as last year. The city did not increase its $40,000 budget for that.

For more on the entire Freedom Fourth event, including the VIP access, click here.

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