Albuquerque, NM
November 16, 2008
Story and Photos by Will Friedrichs (redkraytdragon)


Mission debriefing from the Mountain Garrison's Dewback Ridge Squad - The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta: This is a 30+ year old annual event that takes place every October in New Mexico that attracts upwards of 700 to 1,000 balloons and over 500,000 spectators over the course of ten days. However, this year we had a special visitor. The Dark Lord himself in the shape of a massive balloon entered the ranks of the special shapes balloons for the second year and completely stole the show.

And of course, what would the Lord of the Sith be without his own entourage and bodyguards (and boy did we need them!)? As you can see from the aerial shots, the big man himself was the very center of attention, hogging up all the curious spectators from the other balloons. Once word spread that he had his own costumed crew, well, you can only imagine the carefully controlled chaos that ensued following the liftoff.

Several TKs, TDs, TXs, TBs, TSs, and even Mr. Fett himself (BH6566 reporting), were employed in detainment and crowd control for this event. However, once the balloon safely lifted off, even these troopers could no longer contain the overwhelming crowds. Thousands (no joke) of happy youngsters (not to mention their grown-up counterparts) had their pictures taken with us, and a few thousand special limited cards were handed out to the lucky children who attended. All the troopers patiently waited in one spot (most for over an hour straight) as they were barraged with an onslaught of happy citizens with their cameras.

All in all, it was a successful event with no injuries and no disintegrations to report. Much interest and awareness was drummed up making many citizens aware of our imperial presence, as well. Special thanks to TK2054 (Benoit), the owner/operator of the Darth Vader Balloon and his Father Michel (both visited all the way from Belgium) for attending and making this whole thing possible. We wish these troopers safety and luck in returning to us for next year's event, which promises to attract even more troopers than the last two years.

To see the photo gallery containing 24 photos click here.