The Doomed Cleveland Balloonfest of '86
The Doomed Balloonfest

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In September 1986, the city of Cleveland attempted to set a special record: the simultaneous launch of 1.5 million balloons. But fate intervened, and the result was both crazier and more tragic than anyone could have imagined. Read more: "Balloonfest" is directed by Nathan Truesdell. It is part of The Atlantic Selects, an online showcase of short documentaries from independent creators, curated by The Atlantic.


Chris Johnson : That sorta sums up the 80's. Reckless disregard for everything around you in the name of vanity

KyuhyunDonghae : lol, reporter says they're not sure where the balloons went, but "at least they're not posing any threat to fish and wildlife." does she think the balloons just magically disappeared?

Nolla Music : One of the worst ideas anyone has ever had. Hands down.

Martin : I am so glad guinnes world records didn't recognise this record.

Michelle Muller : No one in the 80's really seemed to consider the consequences of anything.

Dawdle Games : and people of that generation try to say we are messing things up...

WookedoutLINK : did the live correspondent just kiss that old woman after ending the interview? the 80s were a wild time

Paulo de Vasconcelos : Stupid, non sense, asinine event. The city should have been sued for all the pollution created.

De’Aaron Fox : *1.5 million balloons disappear from the lake* Cleveland: we are not quite sure what happened.

Jenna W : Cleveland: How do we prove we aren't a joke? Leadership: Lets launch a ton of balloons! Then everyone will have to take us seriously! Guinness world record: NOPE Coast guard: NOPE Canada: WTF

100KTONS : China: I POISONED THE OCEAN America: hold my beer

1dogissky : I thought a kid was going to go up with some of the balloons or something

mosse matters : Balloon fest: the most disastrous festival ever. Fyre Fest: *hold my cheese sandwich*

Ruben Sentosa : Nobody: Planet earth: Cleveland: WHOAAYAAAH LET'S POLLUTE THE ENVIRONMENT WITH 1,500,000 BALLOONS!!!

Dennis Fajardo : Did they really think all those balloons were leaving Earth atmosphere?😫😫

J Blue 31 : 1986 was also the year of Chernobyl, the space shuttle challenger explosion and the year I was born. All disasters.

Stephanie Leigh : That eerie shot right after the guy stops screaming from excitement and the popped balloons start falling out of the sky like apocalyptic ash is so surreal.

h8today : The ending report is the best part..."We don't know where the balloons are, but at least they aren't hurting the environment, wherever they are!"

Kevin Benoit : “At least it’s not harming wildlife” Where do they think it went? Seriously?

New Horizon : And we wonder why the oceans are polluted. Looks like Cleveland is the butt of jokes!

Grace Antonczak : Legend has it Mary Ellen’s watch was never found..

Hello Denise : For those older generations on social media calling the younger generation "snowflakes" or "back in the days" ... um .. come again!?

L F : these gender reveals getting out of control

MMMmyshawarma : Ladies and gentlemen, there is no mistake on the lake anymore! - Cleveland Man, 1986

Cupcakepunch : There's a legend they're still picking up balloon scraps...

sandie chevalier : Of course Canada had bear the burden of USA actions, how familiar

Adam Moss : And then Cleveland was never the butt of any jokes again...

Valar Dohaeris : Am i the only one who wished that the balloons were colour coordinated, as in just two colours rather than a mix of all the colours that made it look like shit ?

Michael McGrath : I found Mary Ellen’s watch when I went on holiday to Egypt 🇪🇬

Artem The GOAT : 1969: Lands Man on the Moon *1986:*

S D : and now they made an island of garbage in the ocean. thanks cleveland

Luke Lemmons : 2:26 did he just say that by releasing 1.5 million balloons Cleveland would no longer be the butt of jokes because how tf does that work

TheJevardo : Needless to say, they never moved to Cleveland.

Keshav Bajpai : *New way to increase pollution by making world records*

Delilah x : The only person who is exempted to do this is Mr. Fredricksen from Disney's UP.

andrea bonaldo : Colours? It’s just orange plus all that plastic and rubber releases into the atmosphere... shame on you Cleveland... cringe

Rcbif : By my calculations, about 6,500lbs of rubber released into the environment. Boy the 80's were a heck of a time....

big papa shark : Congrats!!! You broke the world record for the most wildlife killed at one time!!

Ava’s World : if this isn’t in stranger things season 4 than what’s even the point

TheNewWave : Somehow it directly resembles the cloud of toxic smog that it is

Nemon Cubez : 1960: I hope there will be a cure for cancer 1986: 1.5 MILLION BALLOONS YAY

Pixel : I love how much all of this must've went through and no one ever paid attention to the fact this was a terrible, high-pollution idea.

William Smith : Did he kiss that old lady on the mouth?

Sergio Alcantar : The reason why helium is going extinct.

Strongbah43 : Cleveland: still the butt of jokes.

Graham 2sexy : The 80s : Badly programmed space shuttles, badly maintained nuclear reactors, aids and mass littering in the name of recreation.

Elwood Scott : Guinness didn't even recognize it. Ouch.

Arctic Foxy : *Canada must have some beef with Cleveland*

D Gayle : LMAO @the announcer struggling to remember what Cleveland was known for. 3:58