The Tumbleweed Drop

This new attitude gave center stage to the unique and often bizarre events that had begun, and would continue, to make Albuquerque famous. The tumbleweed drop is almost unanimously cited as one of Albuquerque's most popular events. Creative not only by design but by pilot implementation, everything from pinion pines to various unidentifiable shrubs were scooped up by pilots in their zeal to find the most aerodynamically efficient "tumbleweed" to drop on the designated target. Fiesta "competition" has include balloon/bicycle races requiring pilots to both fly and ride. Blackjack was played by dropping markers on playing card targets. Hula Hoops have been tossed around the neck of a 20-foot tall beer bottle. Pilots have tried to hit targets with everything from seed bags, ping pong balls and film boxes to beach balls and baby inflatable blimps.

The grandaddy of them all, however, has been the key grab competition. Introduced in 1978, this event has not always produced a winner, but it inspires pilots and thrills spectators. Watching the balloons rise and fall, pilots shake their baskets and stretch their bodies, while trying to snatch car keys from a 30-foot pole, has become a Balloon Fiesta tradition of its own.

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