By Marty Mayfield
Near-perfect weather greeted the balloonist and spectators at the 2022 Santa Fe Trail International Hot Air Balloon Rally held at La Mesa Airfield this July 4 weekend.
Saturday and Sunday, very light winds allowed some pilots to stay close to the field and offer spectators a show that had not been seen for a long time in Raton. Kissing balloons were seen at least twice during the event as the balloons moved slowly across the pitch. The Saturday morning winds allowed the pilots to maneuver their balloons fairly close to the pitch. Low winds on Sunday kept pilots close while winds aloft carried balloon pilots and riders north over Raton. Pilots found landing spots primarily in eastern Raton, a sight that hasn’t appeared in several years of ballooning in Raton.
The Elks Lodge again provided pancakes and sausages for spectators at the event while DJ Teddy Romero provided the air with music and games for the children. The Class of 1972 planned their class reunion for the weekend and sponsored a balloon allowing several of the class to take a first ride in a hot air balloon. It was noted that several out-of-state license plates were seen on the lot.
New Mexico Magazine even ranked the Raton Balloon Rally as their number one event to see during the 4th of July weekend, making Raton one of the hotspots in the state.