In elementary school growing up, there was something called "balloon day" once a year. We would all gather on the blacktop on this day each with a helium-filled balloon tied to a postcard. The postcard would have our name and school's address as well as a letter telling about ourselves. On the count of three, the whole school released the hundreds of balloons with hopes of each balloon reaching the far corners of the world. The sky was polka-dot filled. It was such an exciting thing to see.
As I kept my eye on my particular balloon with the greatest of hopes for it to reach Lima, Peru or some other faraway land, every year I was instantly disappointed when the balloon's journey ended on the telephone lines 100 feet away. While others had balloons that got smaller and smaller until we really could no longer see them at all, mine was clearly in view for weeks after, punctuating my failure.
This was actually a contest. The letter on the postcard was supposed to ask the recipient to send a note back to the school telling about where the balloon's journey ended. The student whose balloon travelled the furtherest got a nice prize and school-wide recognition. One year I remember that someone's balloon went all the way to Maine. Maine! All the way from West Point, Virginia to Maine?! Remarkable.
Balloon Day ended abruptly when someone complained that since the balloons return to the earth eventually as litter and perhaps choke seagulls and sealife, Balloon Day was contributing to the pollution problem.
Oh Amy, thank you for bringing back one of my childhood memories. We too had Balloon Day. One year mine went all the way to Tennessee which at the time seemed across the world from central Arkansas.
Tree huggers ruin all the fun! Loved your story.
Oh! I loved balloon day. Loved it!! Maybe we need to invent biodegradable balloons. You could sell them to schools and we could reinstate the balloon day tradition.
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