Balloon Fiesta’s history of the Special Shapes Rodeo


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Special Shape Rodeo is one of Fiesta’s most popular attractions, but just how did that tradition get started?

Turns out, special shapes date back more than 130 years. Around 1880, a British pilot created a perfume-bottle shaped balloon.

Like many of today’s special shapes, it was designed as an advertisement. But it was another century before the first special shapes showed up at Fiesta, in the 1980s.

“Balloon pilots were getting kind of too serious and they thought that things needed to lighten up a bit,” said Balloon Museum Curator Marilee Nason.

One of the original fiesta special shapes, a Carmen-Miranda inspired balloon, is still flying today. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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