Taking a Chance :: Balloon Crew with a Toddler

My daughter has been participating in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta since I was 3 months pregnant with her in 2015. Because we are part of a balloon crew, Fiesta is a favorite time of the year for me and my husband. Last year our daughter joined the crew at 6 months old, bundled in a snowsuit on my back in a carrier. She barely fussed, wasn’t afraid of the fan or burner noise, and slept through most of the inflation and chase. 

This year she was one and a half when Balloon Fiesta rolled around, and I was a little apprehensive about how things would go. Our balloon is part of the Dawn Patrol, so we are up at 3AM every day of Fiesta to meet the rest of our balloon crew and pilot by 4:30AM. We are on the field getting ready by 5AM. Dawn Patrol launches at 6AM, and our morning usually ends by noon. It’s a lot for a very active kiddo who wants to be a part of everything. I envisioned a cranky, uncooperative child who would be miserable after a few days. 

As always my daughter continues to AMAZE me. She woke up happy every day at 3:30AM asking for “boon” (balloon) and allowing me to dress her in an insane amount of layers. Some days she slept on the way to the field. Other days she chatted away the entire time. She watched with excitement from the carrier on my back as we got the balloon out and set up, but promptly fell asleep as soon as the fan started for cold inflation.

 

She slept through the burner firing, the crowd cheering, all of it. While we were chasing she would usually wake up and eat snacks with the two older kids on our crew. They were amazing and kept her company in the car for hours at a time. She’d see the balloons in the sky and tell me excitedly, “Mum! BOON!” and point to them.  When we’d jump out to grab the balloon at landing, she’d sometimes want to come in her carrier, and other days she was perfectly content to stay in the car. 

Now granted some days were more challenging than others, and there were definitely some meltdowns. One particularly epic one because she disagreed with my decision to put boots on her feet. Overall though, I couldn’t have asked for a better week with her.

As parents we often decide to forgo opportunities or events because we fear the worst of our kids will come out. Yet they so enjoy new experiences. I encourage you to try something new. Take that opportunity. Attend that event. Maybe join a balloon crew. If things go south, then so be it. But hopefully your child will enjoy it as much as you do!

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