Inner City Angels Balloon Day Update

birthdayA few months ago I wrote about my memories of Inner City Angels Balloon Day. Yesterday, Jane Howard Baker, the Executive Director at Inner City Angels, chimed in with a comment that answered a few of my questions.

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!


Jane Howard Baker
Executive Director
Inner City Angels

I participated in that last balloon day in 1989. I was in grade 8. Ill conceived, but a hell of a lot of fun.

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Ernest Sniedzins, Chairman

I was the Chairman of Inner City Angels in 1983. As the Chairman I was concerned about the "Balloon Race" for the above reason and also I did not want young children knocking on stranger’s doors asking for donations. So I came up with another way to raise funds for the Inner City Angels art activities. I proposed that we publish a "Who's Who in Toronto" book. I estimated that we would raise over $250,000 for the arts. I explained to the board my concern about the "Balloon Race" and why I felt that this fund raiser would be more appropriate and not cause the concerns I had about children's safety and the environment.
The board voted not to go ahead. They did not want to risk any funds on such an unknown undertaking. They were satified with the growth and funds they were getting from this Balloon event. The only Board member who supported my idea was the Toronto Star's restaurant food critic, the wonderful but alas departed Brent Thrall.
I resigned shortly thereafter and started the Community Homes for the Mentally Handicapped. I then took my own funds and produced in 1984 the historically acclaimed "Who's Who in Toronto: A Celebration of this City. The book was an immediate best seller raising over $250,000. The Toronto Star covered the City Hall launch on its front page. The book had 598 pages with hundreds of photos of the rich, famous and not so famous people. I even included the Inner City Angels. Today you can only find it in the reference library.
It was ironic when in 1989 the Chairman of Inner City Angels approached me for help in coming up with another fund raiser. It seemed that the city had stopped their environmental unfriendly fund raiser.
Unfortunately, I could not since I was putting together the "Climb for Hope" Mount Everest Expedition to raise international awareness and funds for Rett Syndrome as I had change the charities name to better reflect the disorder that my daughter has.
Today, I am in Tianjin, China sell my patent pending Knowledge Generator software system to the Government and students of China and came across this article. Now you know some of the other sequence of events.
E. Sniedzins

June 12, 2009 @ 11:30 AM

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