Now that the 49th Annual International Balloon Fiesta has come to an end, it’s time to catch up with our resident Bosque Bobcat balloonists—sisters Julia ‘23 and Liliana ‘27.
The siblings run crew for the Fractal Foundation’s fractal-printed balloon, “Infinitude.” The name stems from the dedication that can be seen on the mouth of the balloon, “Infinite Gratitude to Benoit Mandelbrot,” as Mandelbrot was the discoverer of algebraic fractals. The balloon features a colorful detail of the Mandelbrot Set fractal containing over 100 billion pixels, magnified 10 million billion times. The Fractal Foundation, a local nonprofit, uses the beauty of fractals to inspire interest in science, math, and art.
Getting the stunning fractal balloon into the air takes preparation, though—and a lot of work. This year, Julia and Liliana weren’t even sure if the event was going to happen. “Normally, we spend the weeks and months leading up to Fiesta in a giddy anticipation, but this year I refrained myself from getting too excited because there was significant uncertainty about whether or not the event would even happen,” said Julia. Once the event was a go, there were a lot of logistics and coordination with the crew. Liliana explained, “For the logistical side of things, a lot happens behind the scenes. We always make a spreadsheet for who's coming what days, where we are launching from, what foods people are bringing, etc.”
For nine days in a row, the Infinitude crew was on the grounds of Balloon Fiesta Park. Julia and Liliana helped set up the balloon, chase it wherever it landed, pack it up, and do it all over again. “All the kids on the crew help give out cards, answer questions, and keep the spectators from coming too close to the balloon,” explained Liliana. “Now that I'm older, I also get to go inside the balloon when it is inflating, pull out the parachute, and Velcro it all together.”
Reflecting on the experience, Julia shared, “I was a little worried that this year wouldn’t feel that much like a normal Fiesta, but I was happily very mistaken. In fact, this year felt all the more special because we’d waited twice as long as usual since the last Fiesta.” She continued, “It was particularly wonderful for me to be immersed in the balloon community again and to see all of our pilot friends that come from all over the world who we only get to see during this week.”
Congratulations to Julia, Liliana, and their crew for another successful year. We look forward to seeing the Infinitude balloon float above our heads for many years to come.