by Inigo del Castillo in New Photography on Friday 21 March 2014

They say that too much of anything is bad. That’s true, even for balloons. In 1986, non-profit organization United Way of Cleveland held a fundraiser by attempting to break the world record for most balloons launched at once. They held the event in Cleveland’s Public Square, where hundreds of volunteers worked tirelessly, inflating 1.5 million balloons and gathering them under a net. When the balloons were released, it created a vista like no other, filling the sky with clouds of colour and plastic.

Unfortunately, the beautiful event took a turn for the worst as a storm arrived, sending the balloons back into the city. Trapped by the storm clouds, the balloons soon blanketed the entire city, paralyzing helicopter rescue services in the process. At the time of the event, two people drowned to their deaths after their boat got overturned (not by the balloons, though). Rescue choppers were supposed to come, but the 1.5 million balloons became an asteroid field, blocking the view of the pilots. When they were able to lift off, they couldn’t find their target as telling the heads of the two missing boaters from the balloons that littered the water was insanely difficult.

In another event, a horse got seriously injured as the balloons spooked it. Owners of the horse sued for $100,000 in damages. As for the city, Burke Lakefront Airport had to shut down a runway and it residents elsewhere weeks to clean up the millions of balloons scattered around.

The Balloonfest succeeded in breaking the world record, but at a cost. This serves as a reality check on how fairy tale-like scenarios could become so devastating and deadly.

Via Viral Forest