Inner City Angels Balloon Day

balloon dayAt The Taste of the Kingsway Festival this weekend, the kids got helium filled balloons. I was sure to tie these balloons down as there's nothing sadder than a kid watching his or her balloon float up to the heavens. There was one exception to this rule and that was the Inner City Angels Balloon Day we had every year in primary school.

I'm pretty sure the Inner City Angels Balloon Day was a Toronto-wide event, it was certainly an annual event at St. Pius X. Once a year we'd raise money for the Inner City Angels by buying and selling helium filled balloons. We'd tag these balloons with contact information and then, all at once, we'd let them go in the school yard. That sight of thousands of different coloured balloons floating away at once was pretty awesome.

The idea was pretty cool. If someone far away found your tagged balloon, they'd possibly write you a letter. Then you'd have bragging rights. I never received a response, but others did from far away places in Ontario and New York State. We'd hear stories about balloons making their way to Europe but that may have been an urban legend.

Looking back, this fund raiser was rather ill-conceived. I'll bet we were responsible for a great amount of littering and who knows how many ducks died chocking on our deflated balloons. You wouldn't get away with such an effort today, but we celebrated it back in my day.

Does anyone know when Balloon Day was killed off? Did anyone ever hear back from the person who found their balloon?


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Comments (13 - click here to join in!)

Annemarie

Funny entry & nice sentiment, but, was this contact info. personal (home addresses) or the school's?

September 10, 2007 @ 3:24 PM

Toronto Mike

I'm guessing it was the schools, but I'm not certain. I take it your school didn't participate in Balloon Day...

September 10, 2007 @ 3:27 PM

Annemarie

I hope it was the school's! Ill-conceived if not indeed! No, I don't recall my elementary schools doing Balloon Day, here or in Ireland, but I'm pretty sure I didn't get one of your balloons over there. ;)

September 10, 2007 @ 3:46 PM

A.R.

What a great memory. Makes me want to do it now, with an email address. Hopefully I won't get spammed.

September 10, 2007 @ 9:26 PM

Kara

I was talking about this with somebody recently. The last one I remember was around our school's centennial and we also let go of a giant balloon it was probably like 86/87 I loved those day and yes the letters were sent to the school.

September 10, 2007 @ 10:46 PM

Jane Howard Baker

Hi Mike,

Inner City Angels halted the balloon race in 1990 (last race was 1989) when the City of Toronto made it illegal to do such a silly thing. Yes it was ill conceived but it brought in a few million dollars for artist visits in inner city schools. Inner City Angels still exists and reaches 10,000 children each year in 100 schools. Our 26 artists deliver some wonderfully innovative programs, working hands on with kids. This is what we have always been about...not balloon races. I joined the Angels in 1993 and have met many balloon race kids now grown up--including accountants, lawyers and bank tellers--who recall their elementary school days letting balloons off in the skies. I received balloon letters back from the US until about 1995.

Today our fundraising comes from smaller events, corporations, government and individuals who remember the balloon race days!

Cheers.

Jane Howard Baker
Executive Director
Inner City Angels

December 9, 2007 @ 7:14 PM

bosa

i remeber the ballon race, my ballon end up in New foundland. i still have the letter that was sent to me from the prist who found it. I won a set of Encyclopedia.

March 24, 2008 @ 6:45 AM

Sabrina

I remember this so vividly and as a child I loved it. Every grade I would look forward to that time of year when we would get to start raising money for the Balloon Race! With our donation sheet we would get a big, round purple sticker to wear when knocking on the neighbours door. It was so amazing looking around the field at all the pretty colours from the hundreds of children carrying their bunch of balloons. I remember the excitement as the teachers would walk around distributing each balloon, one by one, calling out each child's name. There was always the worry that once your balloons were released they would go up into the sky stuck together in a tangled bunch! No one wanted that. One year, the card on one of my balloons was sent back all the way from New York state. I was very proud. The Inner City Angels Balloon Race was one of my fondest memories from grade school.

October 10, 2008 @ 2:02 PM

Christine

I remember my elementary days at school especially the Inner City Angels Balloon Race. This was so exciting and fun to hold these balloons in the school yard and on que release them and watch the balloons take off into the sky and wonder who will find it and where it ended it's journey. I really miss this it's a shame the city haulted this and made it illegal. I trully wish something else safe for the environment would come about so my son and his friends can remember something exciting about his elementary days as I did and still do. The Inner City Angels Balloon Race is a fond memory I will have forever.

September 30, 2009 @ 2:41 PM

Jane Harris

OMG! I can so remember the Inner City Angels balloon release day we'd have at St. Camillo de Lellis elementary school back in the late 70's (1980?) ! It's cool to know it's still a fond memory for so many others, too ... :)

February 10, 2011 @ 9:03 PM

Al

Oh yes.. I remember the balloon races, I was in grade 4 and recived a package and class photo from a teacher in Maine. This was in 1985/86, he had his class all write letters and send them back to my school. Along with a class photo. My balloon was the farthest a balloon had traveled from our school, that we had ever know about. Shame we can't do it today...But my kids thought it was quite something.

Thanks

Al.

March 31, 2011 @ 1:35 PM

Albie

I totally remember balloon race, I loved loved it. I got one letter back, it reached St. Catharines. We did this every yr. at Clinton P.S. Best days ever!!!!!

April 28, 2016 @ 1:27 PM

Ms. DL

OMG!!! My balloon reached a farmer's field in Pennsylvania. I won an ADIDAS cloth bag. WOW!!! what a blast from the past!

November 8, 2017 @ 3:55 PM

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