Mass balloon releases could soon be banned within Greenville city limits

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 11:44 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2023 at 10:24 AM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -Releasing balloons is a symbolic way to honor a loved one who’s passed away, but the environmental after-effects have caused Greenville City Council to consider banning the practice.

As council considers the ban, ECU student Leland Morris is already thinking about what it would mean. “I care for those families. That sucks they can’t do balloon releases for their family member.”

“When we know better, we do better,” said Samantha Crow, Greenville resident. “We’re releasing trash into the air. Just because it’s not laying on the ground in front us, it’s going to go somewhere else.”

Once the balloons float down, they often land in places like parks and streams. They also tend to impact wildlife, who may think it’s food.

Some councilmembers, led by Marion Blackburn, want to see releases gone, but Mayor PJ Connelly believes the legality behind enforcing it would be difficult.

“We should advocate for people not to do it on an often basis because we don’t want littering but where does it cross the line,” Connelly said.

Party Makers is a common store for people to grab balloons for their releases. Employee Nick Peele says he understands the pros and cons of releasing them.

“Celebrating a death, I think a lot of people use it so it’s valuable,” Peele said. “However, it does do damage when it’s fed in the environment.”

The council voted to have city staff develop an ordinance that would prevent the release of more than 10 balloons, and council would then discuss it further.

Peele believes if they decide to ban mass releases, it’ll hurt more than grieving families.

“A lot of people come to balloon places to get balloons for releases,” Peele said. “It would definitely affect businesses.”

Connelly says litter and pollution are things you don’t want in the community, but says he also believes in allowing people to grieve in their own way.