America's Challenge Updates
Inside the Basket - Damian Duran-Arias, Balloon Fiesta Assistant Field Manager
March 26, 2020
Damian Duran-Arias is Balloon Fiesta’s Assistant Field Manager. In this role, he prepares year-round to ensure that Balloon Fiesta Park is ready for the launch of 500+ balloons and the arrival of guests from around the world.
In this month’s Inside the Basket, Damian gives a look into his focus area and the intricate process of preparing for the event.
1. Give a brief overview of your position with Balloon Fiesta and how you became involved with the organization.
I am the Field Service Assistant Manager. My role includes everything ranging from light towers, electrical, painting, banner set up, flags, forklift operations, and setting out launch markers.
I started volunteering when I was about 10 or 11 years old in the early 2000s. I started working field service in 2012 and did that seasonally until May of 2019, when I became assistant manager.
2. Field preparation for Balloon Fiesta is a year-round task. What goes into the planning aspect?
It starts from making outlines, maps and layouts, and planning what kind of equipment and material we will need. We also have to make sure that we will be able to access that equipment. This includes accounting for about 65-70 light towers, numerous generators and making sure we get the right size generators to supply the power needed.
3. What is the most difficult part of preparing Balloon Fiesta Park for Balloon Fiesta?
Light towers. They start showing up about the Tuesday before Balloon Fiesta and we have to have them out by the end of Friday night. It takes 20-30 minute turnaround time to set up each light tower. We also must account for those that belong offsite, such as at the Park & Ride locations. This process can take 4-5 hours to take them out.
4. What do you enjoy most about being involved with Balloon Fiesta in this role?
I enjoy seeing all of the excitement on the guests’ faces. One time a couple stopped to ask a couple of questions about Balloon Fiesta. They happened to be driving through Albuquerque on their way home to Oregon. They had stopped for the night and visited the event. They were intrigued and excited to plan a trip for next year for the whole event.
5. What advice do you have for first time Balloon Fiesta guests?
I would tell them you have to stay for at least 3 days and try and go to every night and morning event because you will not be able to see all that Balloon Fiesta has to offer with just 2-3 events. There is never enough time to enjoy all the different balloons to see and different food from the vendors have to offer.