The million Cleveland balloons
On September 27 will be 33 years of one of the most surreal and tragic moments in the recent history of the city of Cleveland (Ohio, USA). Such a day of 1986, United Way of Cleveland, a nonprofit organization, held a mutually event (intended to raise funds for charitable purposes) in which it was intended to beat the world record for the largest number of balloons released simultaneously to the sky.
The idea could not be more striking: lodge in a gigantic network no less than 1 and a half million colored helium balloons that were going to be released at the same time for recreation of all – and incidentally, of course, sneak into it, for then called, Guinness Book of Records.
The baptized as Ballonfest ’86 He gave us all incredibly beautiful and unrepeatable images – this second especially, for example – that have gone down in history: after hours and hours of inflation by hundreds of volunteers, the balloons began to rise as if from a gigantic flock of Birds were involved, drawing an incredible picture of the city with numerous colored dots that flew over the buildings – especially the Terminal Tower. The photographs are, today, an incredible graphic document worth contemplating.
30 Years Aug Today: the epic fail of Balloonfest ’86. https://t.co/4zn3Y0R8sz pic.twitter.com/UbqHWqzkoh
– Cleveland Memory (@Cleve_Memory) September 27, 2016
«In 1986, United Way of #Cleveland released nearly 1.5 million balloons at Balloonfest ’86. Lawsuits from… »#history #pics #photography pic.twitter.com/XWKn3QuBVk
– Rebecca Rocki (@RebeccaRocki) January 23, 2017
A picture of Balloonfest ’86 in Cleveland, OH (photo credit: Thom Sheridan) pic.twitter.com/XgmZgfuC6L
– neelie gr (@neeliegr) March 3, 2017
The problem is that this initial moment of joy at the execution of the feat was soon distorted by atmospheric conditions. A strong storm With rain and considerable wind gusts, the balloons could not disperse, quickly falling back into the city, something that was obviously not contemplated. In addition to the collapse in the streets, with a huge amount of balloons that cost weeks of cleaning, a good amount of them also fell to Lake Erie, with a tragic consequence: their obstruction in the rescue efforts of two people.
Apparently, two fishermen who were sailing on the lake overturned and fell into the water, needing the help of rescue teams. As the area was infested with balloons, neither the rescue helicopter nor maritime rescue could operate properly and on time, and once it reached the lake, the amount of balloons deposited in the water made it impossible to see correctly. As a consequence, the two fishermen died (they were found days later on the coast).
#TBT Image of Balloonfest ’86. Click here to see Plain Dealer article featuring our Senior Editor John Grabowski: https://t.co/ZC7HTw9KBh pic.twitter.com/NQPxiblsXk
– Encycle (@EncyCle_) September 23, 2016
The wife of one of those killed in the boat sued United Way of Cleveland for a millionaire amount and was not the only one. Also Louise Nowakowsk, a woman who owns a field outside, accused the organization of the damage suffered by her Arabian horses, who were injured while shaking, afraid of the amount of balloons that fell in their area.
The Atlantic people made a brief documentary about the Ballonfest which can be seen for free in YouTube (barely lasts 6 minutes). It is in English but it has subtitles, so that it will help you transport yourself to the city and at that time, giving you a better idea of what the event meant and the scope of such madness. It has no waste.