Balloons are fun. They are also, when released in large numbers outdoors, are bad for the environment. So local and state governments are banning intentional releases.
As we mentioned previously in Kickstart, this isn't an issue of going after toddlers who lose their individual balloons, but rather big outdoor releases for celebrations such as weddings, gender unveiling parties, graduations and similar events.
Last year, Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed a bill into law that will ban intentional outdoor releases starting in 2023, with exceptions in place for hot air balloons and government and scientific research.
And on Jan. 24 the Cleveland City Council passed a law that will levy a $150 fine on anyone releasing 10 or more balloons outdoors.
Clevelanders should know about balloon damage. In 1986, the city supported the release of 1.5 million balloons as part of Balloonfest. The balloons not only ended up littered across land and lakes, but also they were blamed for interfering with a search for two missing boaters.
Damage from balloons has continued. The New England Aquarium posted a news release Jan. 26 on its work to rescue a sea turtle that had managed to swallow the ribbon from a balloon. One end of the ribbon had passed completely through the turtle's digestive system while the other end was still outside its mouth.
Aquarium officials said the turtle is recovering from surgery.