Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

The Race for the Ring.(Balloon Fiesta)

Byline: Glen Rosales

It's a tiny bauble, really. It has little intrinsic value. It's just a little ring, with a metal hot air balloon on it and a car dangling off it like a charm bracelet.

It's certainly not the most attractive ring somebody could sport on one's finger.

Yet, members of the McConnell family will go to great lengths to wear the ring, if only for a day.

"It's not a great work of art," said Lucinda McConnell. "But, we treat it like it is."

The ring is a hallowed treasure broken out each year only for the Kodak Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The rest of the year, it remains in the good hands of Mary McConnell, chief merry maker and matriarch to the brood.

During fiesta week, however, the honored ring bearer is a member of one of the chase crews that first reaches Dr. …

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