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News from the Balloon Fiesta Newsletter

Oct 28, 2016

Inside the Basket: Jay Czar, Balloon Fiesta President


The 24-member Balloon Fiesta board of directors works year-round, in many capacities, to help plan for the Balloon Fiesta every year. Jaz Czar serves as the board president. Learn more about Jay Czar’s Balloon Fiesta favorites in this month’s Inside the Basket.

How many years have you been involved with Balloon Fiesta and in what capacity?

My first official involvement with the Balloon Fiesta was in my capacity as Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Albuquerque in December of 1993.  A delegation of the AIBF board of directors met with newly elected Mayor Martin Chavez to present a proposal for a permanent park for the Balloon Fiesta.  The board had a visionary plan to create a permanent home for the Balloon Fiesta that would ensure its growth and prosperity for many years.  The Mayor assigned me to work directly with the AIBF board and other government officials to develop a plan of action for acquiring and developing the land that is today Balloon Fiesta Park.  I was already a huge Balloon Fiesta fan and the opportunity to work with the board was a great experience.  I was very impressed with the board’s commitment to the sport of ballooning and to the event.  This long term partnership between AIBF and the City of Albuquerque has been incredibly successful.  I continued to work with the Fiesta when I was Director of Aviation and later as Chief Administrative Officer.  I joined the AIBF board of directors after I left the City in 2004.    

Since becoming the AIBF board president, what has been the best part of holding that position?

It really has been an honor to represent the organization that produces the premier ballooning event in the world and the State’s signature event.  The best part of being president is working with a world class board of directors and staff.  The camaraderie of the balloon community feels like one big international family.

As we say goodbye to 2016’s event, what do you view as the biggest success?

The biggest success is the incredible teamwork of the board, staff, navigators, sponsors and partners that produced a memorable event.  All their hard work and great plans resulted in an outstanding Balloon Fiesta; this year’s event was successful by every measure.  Our loyal balloonists put on a terrific show for everyone.            

What is your favorite part about the event?

Seeing generations of families enjoying the multisensory experiences of the event is always rewarding.  Hearing kids laughing and yelling with delight as balloons inflate and ascend, listening to the crowd roar and applaud after the fireworks finales is awe inspiring.  Spending time with my own family and friends at the Balloon Fiesta is something that I look forward to all year.  The very best part is when my grandchildren spend Balloon Fiesta weekends with my wife Margaret and me at the RV – their excitement about the Balloon Fiesta keeps me energized.

What would you say to people who are considering attending next year’s event?

Don’t miss it!  We started making plans for the 2017 event immediately following the farewell ascension on the last Sunday of this year’s event. The 46th annual Balloon Fiesta theme is “Inflate your Imagination” – it is going to be an awesome Fiesta!    

Do you have a favorite balloon?

The Zia balloon – it represents the spirit of our State and all New Mexicans.