Balloon releases cause problems

Published 9:54 am Thursday, March 31, 2022

You’ve seen the sight before. Perhaps you even have participated, thinking that a warm feeling from a balloon release is a good thing, a panacea.

 

Maybe it’s good for you, but it’s bad for our beautiful countryside, lakes, roadsides, trees and last, but certainly not least, our animals, especially aquatic life, pets and livestock. Oh, and then there’s the environment because balloons become litter.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

 

Although I’ve never participated in a group balloon release, I think I can understand the cathartic sensation people feel, the sense of relief that your pain–perhaps coming from the loss of a loved one in your family or community–is floating away from you at that moment. 

 

The truth is those balloons don’t float up to heaven, as some adults have said to children. Maybe they actually believe they are heaven bound, but farmers find deflated balloons in their hay fields and pastures where curious livestock have been known to eat them with tragic results.   

 

Last year a Roanoke, Virginia, farmer found a balloon near a horse in his pasture. By studying the printed information on it he was able to determine that it was released in Pueblo, Colorado. It traveled more than 1,500 miles in just two days.

 

I read a well-intentioned group’s announcement about their plan to stage a group balloon release. It would signify letting go. “By doing this in a group, we recognize we are not alone in dealing with chronic stress, adversity and emotional trauma. We build a sense of commonality and community,” said the promotional material.

 

The balloon business isn’t doing much to promote awareness about the dangers, but even if there were warnings, people aren’t likely to be fazed by them any more than smokers were by the warning labels on cigarette packages.

 

What can be done?

 

Education seems to be the go-to answer, but clearly we can’t make schools teach the parents, who are the real delinquents in this. Maybe teachers could be persuaded to spend a few minutes with each class explaining the potential harm that can come from balloon releases. A good teaching source is balloonsblow.org.

 

A friend smarter than me says kids will listen and understand if teachers will talk about stewardship of land and good care for animals. So, teachers, lend a hand please, and thank you.

 

Larry McDermott is a local retired farmer/journalist. Reach him at hardscrabblehollow@gmail.com