By - Control_Station_EFU
Fascinating Horror [has a video](https://youtu.be/cUWozvJ-Ic0) (relatively short, five minutes) that covers this ill-conceived event.
Disney did it *better* in '94. How did they do it better and mitigate the ecological/societal impacts?
They own miles of land around their Disney world parks. Allowing them to limit boat and pedestrian traffic to the area. They also probably have a full team of people to clean up after their regular events, so the cleanup was most likely a more organized effort even if they had to hire extra people. Definitely didn’t have no environmental impact, but I Disney park workers that clean up after parades regularly will most likely be a better fit for event cleanup than city workers. (If they even thought of cleanup)
[A video I found](https://youtu.be/UfMLvtaTgtA?t=452) about the Disney launch said the balloons were biodegradable and tied by hand so no plastic pieces would litter the ground. Most of the balloons shattered in the atmosphere.
Probably, most likely, regularly will most likely.... Why does it feel like a bad guessing game?
I just choked reading this, lmao
Treb Heining should have been tried as an eco-terrorist. He organized the Cleveland event and I'm pretty sure he helped with the Disney one as well. That is the most ridiculous use of an engineering degree
It was a regrettable mistake, but a better fit for /r/facepalm than CatastrophicFailure. A small airport shut down for half an hour. They suspended the search for some missing boaters, as they were likely dead by then (there was a big storm) and it was hard to spot the bodies among all the balloons littering the lake. And the latex balloons were biodegradable (albeit it took months and in some cases, years).
Nor was it a horror, but it is fascinating, and they make good videos. Other documentaries:
* [1986 Balloonfest, 1:44](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B18OODqPJJg) (from [a comment in an earlier thread](https://old.reddit.com/r/CatastrophicFailure/comments/ok3ou4/balloonfest_1986_a_fundraising_publicity_stunt/h55kby9/))
* [The Doomed Cleveland Balloonfest of '86, 6:35](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0CT8zrw6lw)
* [The Most Damaging Charity Event Ever, 4:47](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYGmifBEboQ)
* [Balloonfest, 6:34](https://vimeo.com/223715406)
Latex balloons are often found in the stomachs of dead wildlife. Latex indeed lasts up to years, the lower end of the "months to years" scale is in ideal biodegradation conditions. During that time they can be eaten by wildlife. Typical balloons also contain a plasticizer and dyes. Releasing a bunch of trash into the air which randomly and unaccountably spread across the landscape was a horrible idea.
Thank you for pointing this out. All I see with stuff like this is pointless, colossal waste that destroys the environment.
I’m not sure that anyone here disagrees with you.
High quality comment, this is why I love this subreddit.
Though it's not talked about as directly, I'd wager that the property damage caused by this incident would very quickly land this marketing ploy as a catastrophic (involving or causing sudden great damage or suffering) failure (lack of success). Though now that you mention it, this subreddit defines catastrophic failure in the sense of a physical object.
Don’t forget the $ it cost in legal settlements.
The video calls it an “unmitigated disaster”. So, I’m going to have to go with catastrophic failure on this one.
Lol and of all names attached to this catastrophe- it’s United Way.
Also most of the latex would melt in the Flaming Cuyahoga so not a huge deal
Hard to top "The Most Damaging Charitable Event Ever."
That seems pretty catastrophic to me
Whoever thought of this must’ve been really high
It was the 80s, nobody gave a *shit*. Hell the nukes were gonna be flying soon anyway lets party!
Yep at school we used to release balloons (the entire school at the same time) with messages inside and hope someone found them.. probably just sea animals choking on them
Fungus smoke, my favourite!
No you idiot it's toadstool fog
The forgot to mention a humongous waste of helium, a strategic element.
You forgot this is before two helium "shortages"
The cool thing about balloons is how they just vanish into thin air once they leave your hands, just like cigarette butts and boogers
"Away," the magical land all balloons float off to.
It was a literal disaster. Among other things, two men were missing and couldn’t be seen by rescuers due to the balloons. They drowned and one of the surviving wives sued over it.
WOW, that is a really intense balloon story. Like, I didn't realize that they could cause THIS much chaos.
I knew I remembered hearing about this!:
Someone messed up badly
I feel like that should be a Stuff You Should Know or Cabinet of Curiosities episode if it hasn't already been done.
The above comment was stolen from [this one](http://np.reddit.com/r/CatastrophicFailure/comments/r4jjz8/balloonfest_86_cleveland_1986/hmhfa32/) elsewhere in this comment section.
It is probably not a coincidence; here is some more evidence against this user:
Plagiarized | Original
-------- | -----------
[This made my heart lurch,...](http://np.reddit.com/r/houseplants/comments/r4dr8r/i_bought_a_house_with_a_solarium_recently/hmhru2c/) | [This made my heart lurch,...](http://np.reddit.com/r/houseplants/comments/r4dr8r/i_bought_a_house_with_a_solarium_recently/hmg5ria/)
[Interrupted a session of...](http://np.reddit.com/r/aww/comments/r4l7vd/found_these_cute_owls_in_my_barn/hmhrmcs/) | [Interrupted a session of...](http://np.reddit.com/r/aww/comments/r4l7vd/found_these_cute_owls_in_my_barn/hmhikm3/)
[Looks absolutely perfect...](http://np.reddit.com/r/CozyPlaces/comments/r4f66g/my_first_place_it_might_be_a_little_studio_but/hmhrjq2/) | [Looks absolutely perfect...](http://np.reddit.com/r/CozyPlaces/comments/r4f66g/my_first_place_it_might_be_a_little_studio_but/hmgf2vh/)
[I bet he could take a mea...](http://np.reddit.com/r/ThatsInsane/comments/r4dr2b/the_officers_name_is_charles_lightoller/hmhri5v/) | [I bet he could take a mea...](http://np.reddit.com/r/ThatsInsane/comments/r4dr2b/the_officers_name_is_charles_lightoller/hmgrr7b/)
[That man deserves a heart...](http://np.reddit.com/r/HumansBeingBros/comments/r4h92l/my_neighbor_knows_im_at_home_with_a_2_year_old/hmhreov/) | [That man deserves a heart...](http://np.reddit.com/r/HumansBeingBros/comments/r4h92l/my_neighbor_knows_im_at_home_with_a_2_year_old/hmh8nhk/)
beep boop, I'm a bot -|:] It is this bot's opinion that [/u/formisvcxzvxc](https://np.reddit.com/u/formisvcxzvxc/) should be banned for karma manipulation. Don't feel bad, they are probably a bot too.
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As a smoker it saddens me how many people compliment me for not just throwing my butts on the ground but actually taking the 10 seconds of effort to dispose of them in the trash. No one thanks someone for not throwing their coffee cup on the ground.
Just make sure it's put out before throwing it in the trash.
I used to work at a grocery store that for whatever reason didn't have one of those cigarette disposal things at the front door. Someone threw their butt in the trash while it was still hot and managed to set the trashcan on fire.
I worked at a call center that had a disposal box, but it never got emptied and eventually someone put a lit butt in the thong that was damn near full. It caught the rest of the butts on fire in the disposal box
*self cleaning box. Smolder for hours, and kill anything within breathing distance.
/S and non-smoker here
Wow this happened at my call center too
Call centers and cigarettes. name a more iconic duo.
Call centers and pregnant women
...and mine. I'm freaking out man!
You are freaking out
Same! It was a regular occurrence for awhile. You'd think they would've emptied it after the fourth fire, but...
A lit butt in the what now
I've seen this happen a few times. The smell, oh god the smell.
One of my favorite fun facts that I learned on a Disney World "Behind the Scenes" tour is that they did the research on how normal person will walk around with trash in their hand and then positioned all their trash cans approximately that distance apart.
It was about 12 feet iirc.
I live down the road from a liquor store. My unscientific calculation has concluded my yard is exactly 1 fireball nip length away from said liquor store. (By car)
I smoke... a lot when I golf, and always put the butts in my pocket till the next can.
That's above and beyond, you're a nice guy. But why not just put them in one of your empties? :D
["I've noticed if you throw something into a water body like a
lake or ocean, and you come back the next day,
Somehow it takes it away and filters it through like a garbage
compactor. It's not really littering if you ask me.”](https://i.imgur.com/QkzpGad_d.webp?maxwidth=640&shape=thumb&fidelity=medium) -Ricky
Do you know what a shit barometer is? Measures the Shit Pressure in the air. When the Barometer rises, and you'll feel it too, your ears will implode with the Shit Pressure. I tried to warn you, Bubs, but you picked the wrong side! Beware, the Shit Winds are a-comin'.
First seasons are really good
Can ya feel it Rand? The way the shit clings to the air?
The shit abyss...
Seems kinda fucked bud
One man's garbage is another man person's good ungarbage
One man's pee stained rug is another man's twister board.
Love the username.
Let’s go, smokes
Who the fuck puts an alarm system in a barn?
Litterfest!! Hooray. I used to tell my ex gf that boogers just dissappear one they leave your nose, so you can basically put them anywhere you want
I mean it's basically true. It's biological matter, something is gonna eat it.
***Shits all over the sidewalk***
Don’t worry something is going to eat it!
You think you're joking, don't you?
This comment just tickled the shit out of me.
Hope you were sitting on the toilet when it happened.
At least boogers are biodegradable
At least you can eat the cigarette butts; nobody eats boogers.
don't bring boogers into this, they definitely biodegradable
I'm fine with boogers
Balloonfest '86 was a 1986 event in Cleveland, Ohio, United States, in which the local chapter of United Way set a world record by releasing almost one-and-a-half million balloons. The event was intended to be a harmless fundraising publicity stunt, but the balloons drifted back over the city, Lake Erie, and landed in the surrounding area, causing problems for traffic and a nearby airport. The event also interfered with a United States Coast Guard search for two boaters who were later found drowned. In consequence, the organizers and the city faced lawsuits seeking millions of dollars in damages, and cost overruns put the event at a net loss.
Good. Fuckin idiots
If you think this is stupid, wait until you hear about the publicity stunt [Crash at Crush](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crash_at_Crush), in which two high speed trains were set course to crash into each other on purpose, with bystanders watching the spectacle (an estimated 40,000 of them). It went exactly how you think it would.
> Unexpectedly, the impact caused both engine boilers to explode, resulting in a shower of flying debris that killed two people and caused numerous injuries among the spectators.
"Unexpected" by whom?
40000 bystanders, apparently
> The Katy Railroad quickly settled several lawsuits from the victims' families with cash and lifetime rail passes. Though the incident had resulted in tragedy, the Katy benefited enormously from the attention it received, including international recognition. Despite the disaster, many railroads continued to stage locomotive collisions in the following years.
They fucking deserve it lol the 1800s were wild
My condolences for little Katie that got killed by our train. Here is a lifetime rail pass to keep the memories fresh.
It was unexpected because apparently some other people had already done the same stunt successfully in Ohio
I mean it was 1896. If it happened today there would still be a large crowd, just with some more safety.
At least 2
**[Crash at Crush](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crash_at_Crush)**
>The Crash at Crush was a one-day publicity stunt in the U.S. state of Texas that took place on September 15, 1896, in which two unmanned locomotives were crashed into each other head-on at high speed. William George Crush, general passenger agent of the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad, conceived the idea in order to demonstrate a staged train wreck as a public spectacle. No admission was charged, and train fares to the crash site – called Crush, set up as a temporary destination for the event – were offered at the reduced rate of US$2 (equivalent to $62. 22 in 2020) from any location in Texas.
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>The story made national headlines, and Crush was immediately fired from the Katy Railroad. In light of a lack of negative publicity, however, he was rehired the next day and continued to work for the company until his retirement, in a career spanning six decades.
I like how the train thing was in 1896 and the balloon thing was in 1986
Next in 6189: Have two space vessels crash in FTL travel
If you think that is bad, back in the 70's a radio station in Cincinnati thought it would be a great stunt to drop 20 live turkeys from a helicopter with a “Happy Thanksgiving from WKRP” banner attached to it, above a busy shopping center parking lot, not realizing that turkeys can't fly. The disaster was narrated live on air by famous newsman, Les Nessman.
> NBC newscaster Tim Russert, then a student at the Cleveland–Marshall College of Law, attended the game. "I went with $2 in my pocket," recalled the Meet the Press host. "You do the math."
There's almost always one or several more people raising concerns about these things that someone at the top just laughs off and says that there's nothing to worry about/they know what they're doing.
I once worked at a Budweiser promotional concert where they handed out free beer.
Decent vid on the topic: https://youtu.be/CFtR38Mlscc?t=34
One of the GREATEST episodes of The Dollop of all time.
“The turkeys are hitting the ground like sacks of wet cement!”
"Not since the Hindenburg....Oh the Humanity!!"
“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”
OMG! That show was awesome! Best holiday line on TV EVER!!
One just went through a car windshield! I have to find cover! Oh..I can't go in there!!
Turkeys can fly.
Though I imagine not very well being heaved from a helicopter.
>Turkeys can fly.
Yes and no. Wild turkeys can fly short distances. Domesticated turkeys, like the ones eaten at Thanksgiving cannot. For one, they have been bred so that their breasts are so large they can’t even mate, let alone fly a short distance.
> their breasts are so large they can’t even mate
Manboobs are my excuse for not getting laid too
Edit: I found a turkey clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiSkjcl9yW4
God ohio really is the worst
I'm pretty sure that was a sitcom man
It's real to me dammit!
Pretty sure that's the joke man.
My understanding is staged train crashes were a relatively common thing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries
To be completely honest, I’d go watch one
Oh, 100%. And full knowing I could be maimed or killed
I'd watch one through a pair of binoculars from really far away. Fuck getting torn open by a metal shard and then slowly bleeding to death lol.
Oh shit…the historical marker for that catastrophe is in West, Texas. If it survived the 2013 fertilizer plant explosion, that is…
The guy responsible was fired only for a day and then rehired when there was no negative press. America rocks.
Yeah, but they got this sick photo though. Worth it! /s
A great way to spend not-your-money, United Way
"Out of sight out of mind" incarnate. Same impact would've happened if a million balloons popped and rained on Pittsburgh or Lake Superior. At least it screwed up a city that was already so polluted that its *river caught on fire*... **13 TIMES**...
As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.
Take that, environment.
*Never should have come here!*
WHY. WON'T. YOU. DIEEE!
\[fight music intensifies\]
How many times do we have to teach you this lesson old man!?
I saw an environment the other day. Dreadful creatures.
Do you get up to the environment very often?
Oh, what am I saying? Of course you don’t.
In your face Captain Planet
I'm sure it's fine. They're all headed outside the environment.
What do you mean outside the environment? What’s out there?
Nothing’s out there…
Except… the sea… and birds… and fish…
well, and 1.4 million deflated toy balloons.
Those glorious bastards make me smile anytime there’s an environmental tragedy on the news, which is a lot these days…
The Environment is not really Cleveland's thing.
Yeah, Cleveland’s thing is the house falling apart while he’s in the bathtub.
Man, this was a hindsight 20/20 big blunder. My understanding is that the initial release was absolutely spectacular albeit released early due to weather. The hype leading up to it was a palpable enthusiasm and Cleveland was buzzing with pride. Organizers thought the balloons would rise and remain floating long enough clear the city, but that inclement weather met them with a cold front and condensed the helium. So those millions of balloons fell incredibly quick and wreaked havoc for days. Imagine massive interstates clogged in black out conditions that swept in like a fierce dark fog. Although blamed for the interference of the rescue United Way was not blamed for the deaths of the fisherman. They did however pay a few handsome settlements out. Solid post! SYSK has a killer episode on this.
Edit: mobile trash
>...but that in climate weather ...
Nice /r/boneappletea. I think you mean "inclement weather"
To be fair, it's also in-climate weather.
So the organisers thought that the balloons would clear the city, and it would be someone else's problem then.
Or even worse they didn’t think at all wtf
They believed the balloons were biodegradable. They were not.
Even paper balloons would have had similar issues in the short term.
The balloons were falling so thick they blocked out the sun for days? Trying to understand what you mean by 'blackout conditions like a dark fog. I understand why the environmental impact is so bad but trying to understand how it takes out an entire city.
Stuff You Should Know
Not quite as horrific as WKRP TURKEY DROP of 1978 in Cincinnati.
God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.
This is apparently one of my dad's favorite memories of the 70s. He tells the story of this episode frequently, and he's laughing so hard by the time he gets to this line that I can't help but laugh either.
Do not believe I have ever laughed so hard as when I watched this when it originally aired. The mere mention or reminder of that episode will have me laughing. Was a fan of the show so that nostalgia is what makes it work for me.
I was 11 when it first aired and still remember how hard my dad laughed, until he was in tears and practically falling out of his chair. Such a great memory. Tim Conway on the Carol Burnett Show could get him laughing like that too.
“As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!”
As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.
That’s a lot of pollution.
That's ALOT of damage!
The mistake by the lake.
Wow this must have made nature more whimsical and fun for all the wild fish and game
I still see people releasing balloons, for many different reasons, and it blows my mind.
What happens with all of the rubber once those balloons pop, lol? I imagine that this is an environmental disaster, no matter how cool it is.
Mistakes were made
Man this was no doubt a horrible event in so many ways but this picture is absolutely beautiful, crazy to think this isnt edited.
Doc, I'm seeing spots.
Even as a child at 4 years old I knew this was wrong yo do
Not as bad as when they dropped all the turkeys on Cincinnati.
I thought they could fly
I swear, as God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly. Such a classic scene.
And remember, Helium cannot be replaced inside of the Earth's atmosphere. It is a finite natural resource. A lot of it was wasted that day.
Yeah you're right! They should have filled the balloons with hydrogen instead. That would have made for a much more exciting day!
Helium is super rare and one of the hardest to store resources, and its use it the medical field makes it invaluable
I don't get it. If it's so rare and finite why is it so easily available and inexpensive? I have no idea how much it costs but it seems like you could get a tank of helium for pretty cheap.
As someone who gets ALOT of MRI this worries me
There's still a century's worth so you can relax.
They sold off the strategic resverere years ago. It's possible it's going to be cost prohibitive
Don’t know why you’re getting downvoted… you are 100% correct.
/u/GraphiteGru is correct, the helium is irreplaceable and wasted.
Some of those balloons are still probably sitting in a pile of trash somewhere on the street
*cries in local wildlife*
We are dumb. Mother Nature hates us.
The mistake in the lake
Wonder how many birds died on this day
Reminds me of this book my dad read to me as a kid. It was called the ballon tree
Beautiful..but at what cost?
How could anyone think this was a good idea?
This is how we screw up our environment. A long with other acts.
RIP soooo many fish
if you look at this without thinking of the consequences, it looks amazing
jason Pollock fest
Three people died from this lmao
Can we stop ruining the planet for FIVE MINUTES!!!