Friday, July 9, 2010

June, the month of Balloons and Fire

A big tissue paper balloon filled with oil and set on fire.  That just sounds like a great idea!

The police found another one of these illegal balloons the other day in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro.

The lighting and flying of these traditional Festa Junina balloons is illegal and one of the things police try to focus on in the month of June.  The balão is filled with air and has a little basket filled with oil. The oil is then set on fire to make the balloon glow. It's then released into the sky.  I imagine it's beautiful to watch.  What I can't imagine are people not realizing that what goes up, must come down.  And in this case, it comes down on fire. 

Fans of the balloons are trying to get the law overturned. They feel they can not have Festa Junina without them.  'This law goes against our national traditions and is an act of aggression against Brazilian culture and identity,'' said Humberto Pinto, director of the Society of Friends of the Balloon, which is lobbying to have the law revoked. ''You can't have the Festas Juninas without balloons in the skies: it is like trying to have Carnival without the samba or the parade floats.''

I'm going to go ahead and disagree with Mr. Humberto Dumbass Pinto.  There are so many aspects to Festa Junina that I think you can forgo sending a big ball of fire into the sky. It's like playing Russian Balloon roulette.  Who's getting taken out this time? A house, a plane, the forest, or all of the above?

It's hard to have your traditions taken away.  That I get.  On the other hand, we're hopefully getting smart with time and this is one tradition that has to go.

Here's a link to videos of the last fire said to be caused by these balloons: Dos Cabritos hill fire
And check out this NY times article on the subject: Rio Journal


  1. I agree, certainly, that the sport/tradition/practice of flying balãos can bring chaos to communities if they fall from the sky still burning and their trackers do not get to them before they set fire to surrounding areas.

    But I must confess to enjoying seeing balãos in the sky early Sunday mornings from my veranda. They can be remarkably beautiful and majestic.

    But naturally I do not wish harm on anyone.

    Tradition and consequences -- that is complicated.

  2. It is. I can see the beauty. I went somewhere in the US where they didn't allow sparklers. It broke my heart. I loved sparklers as a kid and never got hurt. Then again, a drunk parent plus a kid with a sparkler does equal disaster

  3. All through my childhood I went to see ballon gatherings. My family is from the suburbs and that is one of the high points of the celebration. People invest months into making the most beautiful balloons. My uncle and cousins always had one to set off and always helped the others go. It was magical, I loved it. It makes me sad just to think that it'll be over. We won't see them in the skies anymore, popping fireworks everywhere. But oh well, there's gotta be some compromise. If it's not safe, it's not safe. We'll hold on to our memories until somebody finds out a safer way to do it.