ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Eight brothers and sisters travel from out of state every year to help crew for one local balloon pilot, and they’ve been at it for nearly 30 years here at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
The brothers and sisters of the Hogan family will tell you their older brother Kevin Hogan is to blame.
“Oh yeah, we’ll blame him,” Elizabeth Hogan said. “He told me one year, ‘You should come out here for Balloon Fiesta, it’s fun. ‘We get up at 4 a.m., we chase balloons, then we go home, take a nap and come back at night,’ that’s what he called fun.”
But Elizabeth, along with her other seven siblings agree that if they weren’t having fun they wouldn’t come back every year for the nine day stretch.
“For us, this is our Christmas,” Mark Hogan said. “You know how family is, some go away and stay away and we went away but something brings us back.”
Other than fiesta, Mark said it’s pilot Gerry Graff that brings them back. Graff, and his crew spend fiesta chasing down Lofty Fiestar. It’s the fourth balloon he’s owned; but he said if it wasn’t for his crew he also wouldn’t come back each year.
“Fiesta is about group hugs. Fiesta is about comradery and seeing other pilots and crews you haven’t seen in a year,” Graff said. “Fiesta is about the spectators.”
And even on days when they can’t fly, the Lofty Crew still finds ways to smile.
“We’re a family,” Mark said. “This is what families do.”