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Windy conditions cancel farewell mass ascension at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Balloon Fiesta
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Windy conditions delayed and then cancelled Sunday's farewell mass ascension at the 51st annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

It was the final day of this year’s event. The mass ascension was scheduled to begin at 7 a.m.

Organizers said balloon pilots were on standby for more than two hours due to brisk winds from the north before the cancellation.

According to launch directors, winds of more than 10 mph can be dangerous for ballooning.

The fiesta draws pilots and spectators from across the globe to New Mexico’s high desert and is one of the most photographed events in the world.

Over nine days, local residents and visitors are treated to a cavalcade of colorful and special-shaped balloons.

Since its start in 1972, the fiesta has grown to include a cadre of European ballooning professionals.

More than 20 countries were represented this year, including Switzerland, Australia, Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Taiwan and Ukraine.

The event also serves as the launching venue for the America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race, one of the world’s premier distance races for gas balloons.