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How A City Celebration Ballooned Into Disaster

Jan 15, 2015

In 1986, fueled by whatever fueled the 1980s and a desire for some good publicity for the city, the city of Cleveland, Ohio, released 1.5 million balloons into the city sky.

The playful bursts of color were great on camera. They seemed to say, "you know who knows how to have a good time? Cleveland, that's who."

The clouds of balloons swirled playfully over the city.

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Until their masses stopped looking like a fun-times cloud of balloons and more like a technicolor swarm of locusts.

Gusts of wind rose up from the drab Great Lakes and pummeled the balloons to the ground.

Causing a full-blown balloon riot.

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Two people on the Great Lakes drowned as a result of the great nightmare of balloons.

The coast guards couldn't fly out to find them because of the mad, swirling mess of balloons. Other balloon-related accidents triggered several lawsuits.

It was the last time Cleveland threw itself a surprise party.

Credit: Thom Sheridan Photography | flickr

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