Balloon Fiesta bucks trend of banning ‘selfie sticks’

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta Mass Ascension stockimg

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Love them or hate them, selfie sticks are getting banned at more venues and events, however, New Mexico’s biggest annual event is looking to embrace the gadget.

Disney’s theme parks made news earlier this week for their all-out ban on selfie sticks, however, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta’s organizers say people should get ready to see a lot of them at this October’s Fiesta.

If you spend just one morning at Balloon Fiesta, it’s easy to see why everyone wants to take pictures. The sunrise, hundreds of colorful balloons and huge torches are some of the things that catch a lot of lenses.

“It’s wonderful,” said Daniel Mueller, a longtime Albuquerque resident who’s taken his daughter to more than five Fiesta events.

“I loved it,” said Amanda Hyder, who’s also been to the event several times.

For years, Fiesta has been one of the world’s most photographed events with a lot of cameras crowding the way. However, this October, Fiesta’s organizers say make way for another piece of camera equipment: the selfie stick.

“We want our guests to share their experience,” said Tom Garrity, spokesman for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

More attractions are banning the extending metal poles that people are using to take pictures of themselves. Disney parks banned them this week, while locally, the Albuquerque Museum has too.

While Fiesta crowds on the field can sometimes get as big as 80,000 people, organizers say there’s room for the gadgets.

“Balloon Fiesta is actually going to to embrace them,” said Garrity.

Garrity says event organizers are not worried about the metal picture taking poles causing any problems or getting in the way of everyone else’s pictures. The event has even formed a plan to sell special Fiesta branded selfie sticks.

“We know that trying to tell people that ‘you can’t do that’ is not going to work, so we’re hoping that people use… are responsible, that they’re courteous of that folks around them,” said Garrity.

KRQE News 13 asked a few Albuquerque residents on Tuesday what they thought about the event embracing the new “must have” gadget. People who gave their opinion had mixed feelings.

“I would think they would be banned or at least not encouraged,” said Amanda Hyder. “I could see definitely a possibility of something going wrong.”

“There’s a lot of space out there I can’t see a selfie stick getting in the way of anything,” said Daniel Mueller.

“Just be careful if you’re going to have them be careful and don’t knock somebody in the head,” said Charlotte, a lifelong Albuquerque resident who’s been to Fiesta several times.

Fiesta organizers hope it just means better pictures.

“And if they can share their experience effectively by using a selfie stick, then let’s bring it!” said Garrity.

While the city has banned selfie sticks at the Albuquerque Museum, they haven’t made a policy for the Rio Grande Zoo. Administrators there say so far they haven’t seen that many selfie sticks pop up.

The state’s New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science also told KRQE News 13 on Tuesday that they too haven’t put in a selfie stick policy yet, saying the gadget hasn’t become an issue.

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