Balloon Fiesta volunteers are a major component to the event’s success. As a 40-year volunteer, Debbie Reynolds is familiar with numerous areas of Balloon Fiesta—especially in her new role as head of Ambassadors. Read more about Debbie’s story in this month’s Inside the Basket!
How long have you been volunteering for Balloon Fiesta and in what capacity?
I believe this is my 40th year as a volunteer. Over the years I've worked in various sections of the Balloon Fiesta. I first started off as crew for a balloon flown by a couple from California. From there my sisters and I were hooked and soon we bought our own hot air balloon where I then got my private pilot certificate. Shortly after I became a launch director for a few years, went on to being the Chief Scoring Officer and then an assistant for a number of years. Later, I ran the Balloon Mail tent for about 10 years and when the Gondola Club opened 13 years ago I went over there to be an Ambassador (as we are now called). Since then, for the last two years, I have been the Ambassador coordinator.
How did you become involved with the Balloon Fiesta and why?
One of my sisters wanted to crew for a balloon and then convinced us other two to help out. We soon got hooked and bought a balloon, a Raven 7 called "Sweet Omega.”
What do you enjoy most about being involved with Balloon Fiesta?
Being an introvert, during Balloon Fiesta I break out of my shell and love talking to people about ballooning and the Balloon Fiesta. So many people come to the event to see the balloons but don’t understand how hot air balloons work or what is actually happening on the field, so to help them appreciate our sport, I like explaining all there is to know about the fiesta.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get involved?
Don't hesitate, volunteer in the office, for field work or wherever the Balloon Fiesta needs help with. Move around until you find your niche.
What is your favorite Balloon Fiesta memory?
Oh so many! Some of the most fun memories were when the officials filmed the pilot’s briefing. One of them was filmed in part at my house as part of "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.” What a hoot it was to be a part of those filmings.