Now, on mass ascension day, the first pink flush of dawn pervades the desert, and thousands of spectators shuffle dust into what becomes a haze. Crews bustle in preparation for the launch. Inflators rasp, burners roar. Willing hands tug at limp and lifeless cloth until it billows fat and round. The smiling face on the Great Pumpkin appears, and the patchwork quilting of Raggedy Ann, then a peacock, a unicorn and Cat Balloon. A blast of gas igniting is heard, then another, and one by one the balloons rise, like Christmas ornaments, majestically, mysteriously, floating in air.