Thursday, I had the privilege of being in conversation with David Ullrich at the Union League Club of Chicago, discussing my book, Uncharted Waters. My goal—in addition to talking about the book—was to plant a seed.
I would like the city of Chicago to be the first city in the Great Lakes region to adopt a ban on the mass release of balloons.
One of the boys told the class if we really wanted to clean up Lake Michigan beaches, we needed to get Chicago involved in the campaign.
“Everyone knows the winds are out of the southwest,” he said. “If we don’t get Chicago to quit releasing balloons, we’ll never have clean beaches!”
He was right. Twelve years later, I am still picking up balloons!
Five states have banned the mass release of balloons. They are Connecticut, Virginia, Florida, Tennessee, and California. None are Great Lakes states. A number of cities have also banned the practice of releasing large numbers of balloons. To my knowledge, none are in the Great Lakes region.
It’s time. Why not start with Chicago, the city upwind of the longest freshwater shoreline in the world?
I planted the seed on Thursday. With a little nurturing, hopefully it will grow. You can help. Write a letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune asking for a city-wide ban on the mass release of balloons. We can find better ways to celebrate, to honor the dead, to make a statement.
Send a copy to your own city newspaper, your own mayor—asking for a ban in your community. Mayors talk. Maybe, with enough nudging, we can get a Great Lakes state added to the list of states outlawing mass balloon releases. Maybe, we can even get all eight states!
We owe it to the 2007 class of fourth-graders to try.
Letter to the Editor,
I’d like to ask the city of Chicago to help clean up Lake Michigan’s shoreline, the longest freshwater shoreline in the world, by banning the mass release of balloons. If Connecticut, Virginia, Florida, Tennessee, California, and the Clemson Tigers can do it, why not Chicago?
Author and Beach Walker