Jaden Flores, 18, has attended the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta® since long before she can remember.

Watching hundreds of colorful balloons float overhead, she always dreamed of one day having the opportunity to fly in one herself.


Jaden Flores

Jaden Flores
Thanks to Swire Coca-Cola, USA – the region’s local Coca-Cola bottler ­­– this year, she did.

At the 2017 Balloon Fiesta, Swire Coca-Cola became the festival’s official soft drink sponsor.

“Swire Coca-Cola is thrilled to partner with the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta," says Karen Cox, Swire’s division vice president. "When you think of fun and refreshment, nothing complements the number-one balloon event in the world more than an ice-cold Coca-Cola.”

To celebrate this sponsorship, Swire Coca-Cola partnered with the National Hispanic Cultural Center to create an art contest for high school students to design a hot air balloon of their own. The winning art would be converted into a piñata to be displayed at the center, and the artist would have the opportunity to ride in the Coca-Cola hot air balloon.

Flores, much to her own surprise, was the lucky winner.

Coca-Cola balloon

The morning of the celebratory balloon ride, she and her mom arrived on site before the sun rose to help set up the Coca-Cola balloon. The brisk, early hours were made worth it by the beautiful morning view to come.

Flores describes the sensation of flying in the balloon as that of floating. The sights from above literally changed her perspective – a shift she believes will inform her future artistic expression.

Balloons in the air

“Getting to experience the take off and the move up into the air, seeing the mountains and the river from above… it was amazing,” she says. “I’ve gained new perspectives.”

The Coca-Cola balloon was one of more than 670 that took flight over the weeklong festival. With approximately 887,700 spectators in attendance, Flores was thrilled to watch this year’s Fiesta both from on the ground and far above it.

Meanwhile Swire Coca-Cola is excited for what the future holds with this partnership. As Sales Center Manager Ed Schell says, “Swire Coca-Cola’s partnership with The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta opens opportunities to integrate our incredible brands into our community where we work, live and play.”

Through this partnership, Coca-Cola will continue to enhance the experience of festival goers both on the ground, and in the air.