HOUSTON, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) -- In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, security has been stepped up at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which will begin in the U.S. state of New Mexico on Saturday.
During a safety briefing at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico, fiesta officials said Thursday that among extra measures, for the first time people entering Balloon Fiesta Park at all gates will have their bags searched, as will people boarding park-and-ride buses.
According to a report by the local Albuquerque Journal, taking part in the briefing were representatives of city, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies, city and county fire departments, government officials and Public Service Company of New Mexico.
Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said bag searches had been considered even before the Las Vegas shooting, but that tragic event was the deciding factor in the immediate implementation.
The entire 360-acre (about 1.5 square km) Balloon Fiesta Park has been designated a "no drone zone" during the fiesta. Albuquerque Police Department (APD) Chief Gorden Eden said APD also was instituting a series of "enhanced" security measures.
Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world are expected to crowd at Balloon Fiesta Park during the fiesta's nine-day stretch.
Established in 1972, the nine-day Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the world's largest hot air balloon festival, which has more than 500 balloons each year.