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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Free Balloon Rides for Burqueños

City Lands New Balloon Deal

By Dan McKay
Journal Staff Writer

City Hall has a new source of hot air. Under a two-year contract,Rainbow Ryders Inc. is renting a hot-air balloon to the city of Albuquerque. The company will be paid about $52,000 a year, just under the limit needed for City Council approval.

The new balloon has a giant "Q" on it— the logo used to promote the city's environmental programs. The new balloon replaces Albuquerque's tricentennial balloon, which also was rented from Rainbow Ryders, said Daniel Jiron, spokesman for the Albuquerque International Sunport.

The city hired Rainbow Ryders this summer after issuing a request for bids. The company will make the balloon available for at least 50 appearances a year.

It's a two-year contract with an option for two more years,
Jiron said. Rainbow Ryders still has the old tricentennial balloon and can fly it, but the city isn't paying for it anymore, Jiron said. Both balloons belong to the company.

"It's an excellent marketing tool for ... the city in general," Jiron said.

Several city councilors never liked the tricentennial balloon.

In an interview Monday, Councilor Sally Mayer said she doesn't like the "Q" balloon either.

"How does a balloon with 'Q' written all over
it promote city environmental programs? I
personally think it's a waste of money,"
Mayer said.

She said she's not a fan of the "Q" logo, either.

The balloon is paid for through the city AviationDepartment, which is funded by airline fees, rent from tenants at the airport and other sources.

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