Guests of the 1987 Balloon Fiesta saw the beginning of a permanent addition to Balloon Fiesta. That addition was the Balloon Glow. This event originally came from events in Longview, TX and Durango, CO in which Scott Appelman, a Balloon Fiesta board member at the time, participated. He wanted to take this type of event to a new level and invite 225 balloons to participate at the 1987 Balloon Fiesta®. At first he was met with skepticism from the Balloon Fiesta Board of Directors but in the end, it was supported. The board decided to offer numbered pilot pins in hopes that pilots would want to sign up to receive this one of a kind pin. There was an overwhelming response from the pilots with 450 of them signing up to fill 225 slots. Guest response was also overwhelming the first year. Nobody knew what to expect but once dusk hit there was an estimated 100,000 people mingling among the balloons. At the time that was the largest crowd the Balloon Fiesta had seen. One of the reasons the Balloon Glow was introduced at the Balloon Fiesta was to give guests and residents something to do in the evenings where the balloons didn’t leave the field. Guests were encouraged to meet and talk with pilots and crew.
During the glow, balloons inflate at dusk, remain tethered, and light their burners in a synchronized fashion. The "glow" effect is created by the same burner system used in flight; however, pilots use various means to bypass the "pre-heat" coils on the burner. These coils help the burner work efficiently, but the flame is a dull blue and does not emit a lot of light. The first Balloon Glow was held to celebrate the 75th anniversary of New Mexico’s statehood. It has always been held on the first weekend of the Balloon Fiesta, and in 1993 a "mini glow" (that’s now grown to over 300 balloons) called Night Magic™ was added on the second weekend