Last Friday I asked you to push us over the halfway point with our balloon fund in time for us to place the order—and you did it!
I never thought much about giant helium balloons except to ogle at them as a child during parades. I don’t remember the bands except for the fact that there were bands, or floats except the fact there were floats, but I can still see the balloons in my mind’s eye. Maybe it’s their sheer magnitude or the fact that they defy gravity that makes them so special. I guess that’s why EVE decided on its balloon project. What better way to get people to see women than to make them larger than life—way larger than life.
My first task as a newly appointed balloon producer was to go to a parade and watch how parade-goers responded to the balloons. I marveled at the smiles they brought to everyone’s faces, the way people crowded around just to watch them be inflated and come to life. I saw parents position their children when they saw a balloon approaching so they could take their picture with the balloon in the background. Why not? Balloons are fun, larger than life, playful: a little bit of whimsy in a serious world.
EVE’s first balloon will be Amelia Earhart. Why Amelia Earhart? We thought over a lot of possibilities. There were literally hundreds of female historical figures to choose from, but a few key things favored Amelia: the historic nature of her accomplishments, the striking visual of a red Lockhead Vega against a blue sky, the fact that she was not a controversial but rather a much beloved cultural icon, the fact that the balloon would be aerodynamic, and most importantly, that she would send a message to young girls that they could do anything, anything at all.
But when we embarked on the balloon project, we had no idea how to build a balloon. It isn’t quite like going to your local shopping mall to a build-a-bear workshop. So we started by partnering with one of the three major balloon companies in the country, StarBound Entertainment. With over twenty years in the business, we figured they knew what to do.
Producing a balloon means obtaining a license, creating artist’s renderings, getting approval of the renderings from the family or licensing agent, constructing a clay model of the balloon, and finally constructing the balloon. Once the balloon is constructed and the costumes designed for the balloon handlers, decisions have to be made where and when it will fly, and arrangements made to transport the balloon to the parade location. Finally, text has to be written for the parade and television announcers to use in their scripts when the balloon flies.
Obviously building Amelia is a lot of work, but here at EVE we think it’s worth it. Our Amelia Earhart balloon will appear in parades for decades to come, giving millions of girls an opportunity to see and hear, “She did it and you can too.”
That’s why I’m thrilled to report that as of now, an artist is working on the drawings for the Amelia Earhart balloon. Our plan is for a Labor Day “test flight”—which means now we need to raise the rest of the money!
We’ll keep you updated on our first balloon’s progress. We are a fledgling organization with modest resources, but as my brother once told me, “Go big or go home,” and you can’t go much bigger than a 40-foot helium balloon.
David in Ohio says:
NICE WORK! Meanwhile an Amelia Earhart fact:
Amelia Earhart’s watch is now orbiting the Earth aboard the International Space Station. It was brought there 82 years to the day after her first historic trans-Atlantic flight.
David, the facts you come up with!