Taos, New Mexico is one of the most beautiful, interesting, creative and challenging places in the world. Amazing art; delicious, local, organic food and wonderful outdoor activities...skiing in the Winter; hiking, fishing, gardening and white water rafting in the Summer.
I moved here on October 17th, 2012 after living the first half of my life in California...and I have never before lived in snow! Share my adventures with me...and maybe fall in love with Taos too.
Good times get ready to take flight again this year with the 34th annual Taos Mountain Balloon Rally. This spectacular, not-to-be missed event will be underway Friday through Sunday (Oct. 28-30). Launch site is in the vacant lot along Albright Street, across from The Taos News offices. Admission is free.
On Saturday and Sunday mornings, Mass Ascensions are scheduled for 8:15 a.m. All outdoor events are weather permitting. So, if the autumn winds are gusty this year and liftoff is canceled, don’t be disappointed. This is for everyone’s safety.
The mornings may be chilly to start and then warm up, so dressing in layers is recommended. Parking is plentiful, and there will be vendors on hand serving up tasty breakfast burritos, donuts, coffee and more.
This hot air balloon rally is an invitational with hand-selected pilots each year. Only 35 balloons take flight and the pilots (who fly in larger rallies) enjoy the intimacy of this Taos weekend.
This event is organized by the all-volunteer Taos Mountain Balloon Rally Association (TMBRA), supported by the town of Taos, and held in conjunction with many Taos businesses and local artisans who donate thousands of dollars in sponsorship, lodging and handmade goods.
TMBRA board members are: President Chris Standard, Vice President Dave Doolittle, Secretary Joan Doolittle, Treasurer Neomi Standard, and members Sandy Olsen, Mike Olsen, Dennis Manzanares and Carmel Manzanares.
There is also a long list of yearly, dedicated sponsors. “We would like to acknowledge our town of Taos co-sponsors and also give recognition to the local lodgers who generously provide rooms for our pilots. Michael’s Kitchen bakes our donuts and provides coffee to our pilots,” Sandy Olsen said.
Rick Romancito, The Taos News
For the first time, Enchanted Florist and Electric Sheep Computers are sharing a sponsorship as a new option for local small businesses. “I just really feel that it is important that we support these events that bring visitors to Taos. Every business benefits from a good strong economy. Teaming up with Electric Sheep just seemed natural. They are our new neighbors,” Marjorie Perry, owner of Enchanted Florist, said.
If you think watching balloons ascend is thrilling, nothing compares to the rush of the burners igniting and the soft quiet when drifting. To earn a ride in a hot air balloon during the Taos Mountain Balloon Rally, visit its website to become a sponsor (you actually earn two rides). You’ll get to experience the ride and meet your pilot and their crew at the registration party.
For the first time this year, TMBRA is holding the pilot registration party at the KTAOS Solar Center, 9 State Road 150, north of El Prado. Radio station KTAO-FM 101.9 has been a big sponsor of the balloon rally for many years, and this year it is expanding its involvement.
Every year, TMBRA has a clothing booth and offers apparel with a unique design for each year, which have become collector’s items. “Our prices are competitive and all proceeds are turned back into the community in the form of the ‘Reach for the Sky’ scholarship awarded to a graduating senior. The more we raise, the more students benefit. This year’s recipient was Ian Haimowitz. In 2015 we awarded two scholarships,” Olsen said.
If someone wanted to purchase a balloon ride for a special event such as an anniversary, there are local companies who fly all year and give spectacular experiences in surrounding areas and into the Río Grande Gorge for a “splash and dash” river experience when possible.
One of the local pilots is Kris Braden of the Taos commercial balloon company, Pueblo Balloon. He is a “Pilot in Residence” for the Taos Mountain Balloon Rally Association. In previous years Braden has advised TMBRA on technical flight elements, especially about the weather. He’s had his pilot license since he was 14 years old.