Someone Released 1.5 Million Balloons Into The Sky And Ruined Everything


If you’ve ever loosed a balloon into the sky, by accident or on purpose, you have probably had that uncanny feeling that you’ve done something simple but irreversible; no matter how high you jump, the balloon will forever be out of your grasp. Now multiply that sensation by 1.5 million; twenty-eight years ago, in a misguided attempt to break the record for most launched balloons in history, the United Way of Cleveland released one and a half million balloons into the sky for a fundraiser known as Balloonfest ’86. As the weather grew grim, the hasty event administrators freed the eager helium-filled balls of color into the sky, and it was all caught on film by the photographer Thom Sheridan.

The images are pretty remarkable; when shot at close range, the balloons look to be raining from above, coloring the skyline and bridges like jimmies over an ice cream sundae. Pink, red, blue, and yellow litter the frame like large-scale confetti. But viewed from further away, the balloons form something resembling an angry plague of locusts that ominously mushroom above the city. They puff up and away, and their colors blur, forming a bloody wound across the sky.

Given the historical context, these photographs are even more theatrical, grim and tragic. Two people died as a result of the event, and a horse was badly spooked and injured. The winds that day caused the balloons to flood together, forming a substantial cloud that obscured the view of aircrafts; helicopters were unable to rescue the victims of a boating accident. In one terrible anecdote, a coast guard member explained searching for the heads of the drowning people and being totally unable to differentiate them from balloons. The entire city remained littered for weeks.

This strange, tragic story reads like a bizarre little fable where excess, pride and even the most well-intentioned aspirations breed disaster and ruin. These photographs, these astounding relics of a city’s hopes and traumas, say it all.  (via Gizmodo and Viral Forest)

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  • Frank Plant

    Breed disaster, ruin and hyperbole….

  • BalloonMan

    And dumb comments…

  • Funwithmisfortune

    guess we now know what happens when you taste the rainbow

  • Troy Alldaffer

    Not to mention that it’s A. littering, B. deadly to marine life, and C. a stupid example of human indulgence yet again, resulting in consequences that idiots don’t predict nor care about. Stupid humans………

  • Burt

    18 years ago, eh? so this was written in 2004??

  • bdecay

    No the article was written a few days ago.

  • Dave Smith

    Ha. I agree . Lets ban Balloons COMPLETELY. Its the only way. Even one balloon is littering, and dangerous to marine life.

  • MarkmBha

    Crazy,,, polution!

  • Doctor Spooge


  • Turd Ferguson

    so your racist against humans? Hell if you dont like balloons then go back to you non-balloon having planet!

  • Jesse

    wow people will right about anything these days

  • dubba jayz

    LOL, I can’t take you seriously here, just the way you’d said that made me burst out laughin’

  • Daniel O’Brien

    “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly”

  • SumBallzak


  • Troy Alldaffer

    Actually, yes, I’m a “racist against humans”. It certainly isn’t gorillas or toucans slowing destroying this beautiful planet. Humans are parasitic as a species. Not all of us, I know that. But as a collective whole, we suck.

  • fantastic

  • Googly Guest

    At least they us the correct grammar, write?

  • Jza’r- roughly translated


  • Virgil Kent

    “And ruined everything”, LOL.

  • Leopold31

    “Ruined everything”. And here we are 28 years later, and EVERYTHING is still ruined. Sigh.

    Exaggerate much?

  • Mike

    “Loosed a balloon”? Seriously. Please don’t turn off your spellcheck when you write. “Loosed” is not even a word. It’s either “lost” or “loosened”.

  • Sarah

    “Loosed” is is being used correctly here as the past tense of the transitive verb “loose”.

    Loose (v): To let loose, set free; to release from bonds or physical restraint.

  • James Dulong

    what the fuck did i just read.

  • trolltroll


  • Legadon

    People don’t understand irony on the internet. You’re literally the only one that sees what you did there.

  • TheNotchyToad

    Stumble, I’m disappointed…bringing me to an odd 28 year old story that most people in the comments seem to have missed and not even sure of it’s point other than “it’s bad” written about a month ago. This was normal in the 80’s, we use to tie letters to balloons from 80-83 and let them go at school and wait for the responses. Schools, as well as just about everyone else, no longer do these huge hundreds to thousands of balloon launches anymore and haven’t in a couple decades.

  • disqus_Hk6bAV5M1R

    Les Nesmin WKRP…….

  • Johnny Kronaz

    Eight months later, and you *still* look like a fool. Bet you wish you’d checked a dictionary before putting your lack of education on display, eh?

  • acgogo

    Stupid and wasteful. Not to mention they will all probably fall into the river or down the sewer drain. Could easily have been done with photo special effects. Do people think before they do dumb stuff like this?

  • Hope

    I agree, who is gonna pick up the trash?

  • Tony Gullett

    Yea–but I bet it was fun—LOL.