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Navigator News

Mar 8, 2016

It Takes a Village


Navigators, Chase Crew and Service Groups

Balloon Fiesta employs a full-time year-round staff of only 14, but they couldn’t do their jobs without the 3,000+ volunteers who assist with the event. Those volunteers fall into 3 categories.

Eleven-hundred NAVIGATORS volunteer on 41 teams, each directed by an AIBF staff person, and most of which are managed by 1 or 2 volunteer Team Leaders or Chiefs.Balloon Fiesta Chase Crew

Front-line guest service teams include the Information Booths, Courtesy Shuttles, Greeters, Gondola Club, Group Tours Tent, Music Fiesta Ushers, Balloon Discovery Center, RVs, Merchandise and more. Several teams are responsible for transportation into and out of the event, such as Bike Valet, Traffic, and Park & Ride.

Serving guests, but not the general public, are teams that care for concessionaires, artisans, sponsors, media, Navigators, and performers.

Service Group Members for Civitans at Balloon FiestaAdditional teams care for gas and hot air balloon pilots on the Pilot Registration and Pilot Hospitality teams, International Pilot Welcome Committee, Chase Crew Committee, propane refueling, and the Hospitality Team who manages the busy Balloon Fiesta social calendar.

Seven teams of officials ensure that flight operations for both gas and hot air balloons are conducted in a safe and timely manner. They include Weather, Safety and Scoring Officials, Launch Directors, Landowner Relations, America’s Challenge Command Center and Support Team, Balloonmeister and Assistant Balloonmeister.

Behind the scenes, the Field Services team spends months preparing the event infrastructure with tasks ranging from painting, carpentry, landscaping and construction, to event set-up, receipt and delivery of freight, and coordination of the numerous contractors who make up this city-within-a-city, such as tents, water, utilities, and waste removal.

Other behind-the-scenes teams include Navigator Services, who organize, recruit, communicate among Navigators. The Heritage Committee preserves the heritage of Balloon Fiesta while compiling the annual event program. And a small team supports the Accounting department with asset management.

Ambassadors talk to groups about the many facets of Balloon Fiesta.

The all-volunteer Board of Directors guides the big picture and ensures that Balloon Fiesta remains the world’s premier balloon event.

Balloon Fiesta depends on an additional legion of volunteers who make up the 550+ CHASE CREWS. Not considered Navigators, Chase Crew members volunteer for and report to individual pilots. Many pilots provide their own crew, comprised of friends and family, while other pilots coordinate with Balloon Fiesta to acquire crew.Navigators managing the Park & Ride Depot at Balloon Fiesta

Standard balloons generally require at least 4 crew members, while special shapes may require 8 or more. With more than 550 hot air balloons launching daily, it takes more than 2,500 crew members to make the event possible.

The management of some Balloon Fiesta operations is contracted out to other non-profits, like the Kiwanis, Civitans, and Community Link ABQ. Their areas of oversight include the Admissions, Parking, Fee-for-Parking, aspects of Park & Ride, Calendar and Program Sales, and the Official Balloon Fiesta Merchandise tents.

These areas need up to 500 workers. SERVICE GROUPS, clubs, and affiliate organizations use these opportunities to raise funds for their organizations. A fee is donated to the group or cause in exchange for volunteer labor. 

Every volunteer is essential to the success of Balloon Fiesta. We thank you all!

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