(Garrison Wells/Observer)

The final day of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta was a balloon-filled extravaganza — something that had been sorely missing during the rain-dampened event. Wind, too. And so balloons for safety’s sake were grounded until the joke around town became it was a balloon fiesta — without balloons.

Then came Sunday.

4 a.m. came early and chilly. The fields were damp still and ruts marked the trails made by balloon crews who dragged their hallowed equipment in day-after-day, only to be rained out.

So there was a collective sigh, and lots of cheers as the green flag came out and balloons were filled with air, then blasted with flames and hot air — and sprung to the skies as if they had been unleashed.

Here’s a look  at some of the early morning flights.