In 1986, A City Released Millions Of Balloons As A Publicity Stunt With Fatal Results

SEPTEMBER 7, 2016  —  By Corinne Sanders

When the city of Cleveland, Ohio, put on a fundraiser for charity in 1986, they really brought it in terms of fanfare.

In addition to raising money for United Way, the city also aimed to break the world record for most balloons ever launched. Thousands of volunteers gathered to make this a reality, and they filled balloons with helium together for hours.

When all was said and done, over a million balloons were released in downtown Cleveland. Although it was an incredible sight to see, the balloon launch had severe consequences that no one anticipated.

I'm a little baffled that they didn't think releasing this many balloons would cause problems.

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Because of a storm that day, the balloons were blown back down over the city.

Because of a storm that day, the balloons were blown back down over the city.

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And when the Coast Guard needed to save two people from an overturned boat, their helicopters couldn't navigate in the balloon-filled sky.

And when the Coast Guard needed to save two people from an overturned boat, their helicopters couldn't navigate in the balloon-filled sky.

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When they finally were able to fly, they couldn't find the people because the balloons had fallen into the water. They weren't able to tell whether they were seeing balloons or the victims' heads.

When they finally <em>were</em> able to fly, they couldn't find the people because the balloons had fallen into the water.  They weren't able to tell whether they were seeing balloons or the victims' heads.

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Unfortunately, the people drowned before helicopters could rescue them.

Unfortunately, the people drowned before helicopters could rescue them.

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Even a horse injured itself after being scared by the ordeal, and the owner later sued.

Even a horse injured itself after being scared by the ordeal, and the owner later sued.

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The city ended up paying millions of dollars because of all the lawsuits that were filed in the stunt's wake.

Who knew that balloons could be so deadly? If my city ever decides to pull off something like this, I'm definitely staying on dry land.

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