Balloon Launch

I don’t have any idea what balloon launches have to do with Sunday school, but they’ve been connected for a very long time. If they’re supposed to be a way to get new people to visit a church, I don’t think anyone ever said, “Oh, look honey, there’s a balloon stuck in our tree! Maybe we should start going to church.”

When I was a kid we had a balloon launch at our Sunday school. I don’t remember why, I just remember wanting to take a few of the helium filled balloons home. Somehow I managed to snag two or three for a couple days of fun.

I tested the balloons by attaching toys to the string to see if they would float. After trying several, I discovered plastic army men were the limit. I imagined what the army guys were seeing as they slowly drifted to the ceiling.

Ten years later the fun was sucking helium out of the balloon to make my voice sound like someone had Porky Pig by the throat.

Twenty years passed before I was involved in another Sunday school balloon launch. Our little church sponsored a contest for the kids(?) to see whose balloon travelled the greatest distance. I put self-addressed cards in sandwich bags and clipped them to the strings. We promised a portable stereo to the person returning a card the farthest and to the person who let it go.

The launch day weather was perfect with a light breeze from the northwest. Thirty kids and several kiddish adults counted down. Three! Two! One! Seven balloons never made it through the birch trees beside the building.

Five weeks went by with no returns. Just as I thought we were going to save the money for the stereos, the mail carrier delivered a winner. The wrinkled and worn card was mailed from Laceyville, Pennsylvania. From our church in Michigan, the balloon travelled 379 miles! We sent a stereo to the person who returned the card, and to the youngster who launched the balloon. My faith in balloon launches was restored.

I don’t know if balloon launches are even legal anymore. I’m just glad I got to experience the excitement of watching them lift into the air, never to be seen again.