Balloonfest Was 35 Years Ago

(Cleveland) - 35 years ago this week, there was an event in downtown Cleveland that was intended to draw attention to the city, and make people feel good. Instead, it turned into a major public relations nightmare.

Balloonfest was an idea from the United Way to set a world record for the number of balloons released in a single launch, 1.4 million. The hope was that they'd sail up and scatter.

On September 27, 1986, the balloons were all inflated and held inside netting over Public Square. The balloons were released, but weather conditions kept the balloons from rising. Instead, they covered area roads, they covered runways at Burke Lakefront Airport, and they hampered the Coast Guard's search for two missing fishermen on Lake Eriie. There's even a report that some horses were injured after they were spooked when balloons settled in a pasture in Medina County.

Because of the damage caused, Guinness no longer recognizes balloon launches.

(Photo from YouTube video)

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