Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

26th Friends and Lovers Balloon Rally Lifts off Saturday.(Community)

Byline: Steve Shoup Journal Staff Writer

More than 150 balloons, including some special shapes, are expected at this weekend's Friends and Lovers Balloon Rally in Rio Rancho.

The rally, which is in its 26th year, is a tradition among area balloonists but also provides an alternative to the crowds and traffic jams at the Kodak Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in the fall, said Chris Liberti, spokesman for the rally.

"It's free; it's a nice show," Liberti said.

The rally is an offshoot of the fiesta, which in 1975 changed its event from February to October for better weather for its nine-day event, Liberti said.

The Albuquerque Aerostat Ascension Association, the local balloon club, adopted the February rally and gave it a Valentine's Day theme, Liberti said. …

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