Fiesta Week 2020 – Due to the impact of COVID-19, the 49th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta was rescheduled for 2021. I had planned to attend Fiesta both in 2020 and 2021 (assuming 2021 would be the 50th Anniversary celebration), but that didn’t happen. I was finally able to attend the event in 2022 and 2023.  I quickly realized in 2023 that my physical limitations would most likely preclude me from attending in person again.
October 2021 marked 20 years since I was designated “Official Diva” and the officialdiva.com domain was registered. Thanks to advances in technology and medicine and the loving care of family and friends, I’m still here! A stage-four colon cancer survivor, now CANCER FREE, I’m looking forward to attending Balloon Fiesta annually again. Thanks to Facebook, in the past couple of years I’ve been able to reconnect with members of my ballooning family from all over the world. If you are among those friends or a new friend with a spurring passion for ballooning and ballooning events, I invite you to join our Balloon Talk group on Facebook.

It was a privilege to serve the world’s largest ballooning event as its primary adviser for online presentation, promotion, and communications from 1995 through 2001. In November 2001, the event announced the loss of its title sponsor of 10 years. When the 2001 event wrap-up was over I realized I needed to make some changes, too. It was time for me to step back and for my staff to take on the bulk of the work.

By 2002 several other sponsors had backed out or significantly lowered their level of sponsorship. While my company had already been contracted to produce the first edition of the 2002 Fiesta website, Fiesta officials expressed interest in additional services and asked me for ideas on how to increase revenues through their online presence. Out of the 23 solutions I proposed, the Fiesta contracted my company to implement and manage an innovative online hotel reservation program. We solicited the services of Mantos Consulting to program the various applications required. We were also forced to terminate our web development services to concentrate on fulfilling the scope of the new program.

After weighing the costs against benefits gained through managing the 2002 online reservation program, I made a strategic decision that resulted in backing away from the project proposed for 2003, essentially marking my “retirement” from official involvement with the event. I continue to pass along the extensive insight gained in working with the world’s largest ballooning event, offering event marketing consulting services to current and prospective Fiesta sponsors as well as other sports marketing organizations.