The BalloonTown USA Years
2004 to 2007 - Cincinnati, Ohio
Before there was FLOAT, there were the BalloonTown USA Projects. These large scale group builds eventually led to the formation of what FLOAT now is today. Take a minute and review the photos of these past efforts, but don't let the page view fool you; there are 40 different photos in all!
FLOAT actually began in 2004 as the BalloonTown USA Project. In the course of this first year, 18,000 balloons were used to create a walk-through haunted house. We also learned to NEVER load in like this again!
Everything about BTU grew in 2005. The team expanded, we increased to 40,000 balloons and we relocated to the gymnasium at St. Rita, a school for deaf children. What better audience for such visual imagery?
In 2006, the project grew again, this time to a crew of over 30 people and just under 60,000 balloons used. St. Rita hosted the event once again, much to the delight of the students, families and supporters. This sculpture was significant because nearly every member of the crew has some sort of input as to how this tractor and scene took place. Talk about a true team effort!
And yes, it was A LOT! In what would be the final year for BTU, it was the biggest effort yet. 140,000 balloons were used, an international crew of over 60 balloon artists constructed it and we expanded to an abandoned department store in a local mall.
Visitors at the very first BTU were greeted at the gate by the gothic looking lighted gate. And in the distance, the caretaker, Jasper, tries to light your way...
The basic plot behind the 2005 BTU Project was that Princess Pearl, a beautiful mermaid, was missing and you had to help find her. Before the event began, a promotional sculpture of Pearl was created and staged in the lobby at St. Rita in an effort to draw attention to the event.
In an effort to be as organized as possible, bases and columns were marked and dropped into place almost immediately when first loaded into the venue. Spaces were left open, however, so that team members could pass back and forth between sections without having to walk the entire labyrinth of layout.
The mission on BTU 2007 was for you to defeat the dragon…so meet the dragon! This design, created by Guido Verhoef, CBA, was the perfect climax to the event.
The first installment of BTU featured several iconic monsters, including what would become a child-friendly version of Frankenstein. But don't let the photo fool you too much; while Frank is big, Mandy only stands 4'10" in real life!
As part of the under-the-sea elements of the 2005 BTU event, we just couldn't resist featuring these two familiar faces. They ended up being the single most photographed element of the entire event!
Each year, the BTU Project was intended to serve as a fund-raiser for community charities. In 2006, our "pig pen" created over 100 piglets that people could take home with them for a small donation.
Without a doubt, this particular portion of Balloonalot had a huge impact on visitors. Our "Fantasy Forest" featured cute creatures and a "nursery" where baby dragons were "hatched" for visitors to take home for a small donation.