ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) — Balloon Fiesta collectibles like pins and posters are popular every year, but the excitement is even higher for anything commemorating the 50th anniversary. “This year we really wanted to bring a lot of different things, so we wanted to have a big party with the 50th, obviously,” said Chani Kaibetoney, assistant manager of Balloon Fiesta.
Kaibetoney says its extensive inventory covers a variety of items for all age groups. This year has a special twist, paying homage to the first party in 1972. “I mean, it started in 1972, and we wanted to bring back some of that stuff, so we’ve got some more retro designs, so you’ll see some retro t-shirts, you’ll see designs from the 70s to the 80s,” Kaibetoney added.
To keep fiesta-goers warm during the busy early mornings, the gift shop, online store and two large merchandise tents will be selling 50th anniversary apparel, including special-edition jackets honoring the 13 balloons that flown at the inaugural event at Coronado in 1972.
“We went above and beyond this year, and something that’s really cool this year is our varsity jacket. We’ve been back and forth with this one, and it came out really nice, but as usual, Kaibetoney says the products fans appreciate the most are the collectibles, especially the monochrome birthday pins, which have flown off the shelves.
“The most sought after items are definitely our pins, crests and poster. These are always collectible. We sold out pretty quickly, and since there are in a series, there are only a thousand,” Kaibetoney said.
The poster, which features a dozen Looney Tunes characters, is the latest chapter in a five-year series. “What we do is kind of funny is there’s a hidden roadrunner in every one of our posters, and we have people come and look at them for a little while just to find the hidden roadrunner,” Kaibetoney said. .
Balloon Fiesta has set aside some of these pins to sell in the tents at the event.