Five Bright Balloons

For many of you who have been in a toddler class I have taught, you may remember one of the finger puppet songs I sing: Five Bight Balloons. The tune was composed by two of my sisters and combined with the finger puppets for an Early Childhood Education class they were taking. The song may be an original composition, but they certainly can't claim the invention of balloons. So I started wondering: where and when did we first have balloons? The internet, once again, is so handy for such inquiries. While there are stories of balloons as early as the 1700's, they involve pieces and parts of animal innards. Certainly not what we picture when we mention balloons today. The latex balloons we're more familiar with were first manufactured by J.G. Ingram in 1847 in London.   Mass production of latex balloons didn't occur until the 1930s.  We started seeing the longer lasting mylar balloons in the late 1970's. And now they come in an enormous selection of sizes, shapes and colors.

I doubt that there is anyone who hasn't had balloons present for one - more like several - events in their lives. We get them for birthdays of course, but also anniversaries, graduations, baptisms and confirmations. They are accumulated by the hundreds for balloon drops on New Year's Eve and political conventions. We offer Get Well Wishes or Welcome Home greetings with balloons. Clowns make animals, hats, and flowers out of the long skinny ones. And what is a 4th of July celebration without a water balloon fight?

Balloons can also be used to mark a point of destination. Real Estate agents now tie them to open house signs and Ravinia revelers mark their spot on the lawn with unique balloon bouquets to help friends find their location. My favorite point of destination that is marked with balloons is the outdoor summer liturgy here at Holy Comforter. The casual atmosphere with the sun on my face surrounded by the faithful who come to worship in song and sacrament is a joyous experience. So in your summer trips around town, when you see a balloon, which you certainly will, may it serve as a reminder to come to where the balloons will be affixed to the gates here on Sunday mornings. See you then.

Mary Johnson