With the best of intentions, Tom Holowach set out to create a massive spectacle.
As Gizmodo reports, Holowach was the mastermind behind Cleveland, Ohio's Balloon Fest on September 27, 1986.
Holowach explained his role in a Q&A this week:
I was the Project Manager for this event. I worked on it for 6 months and lived in Cleveland for a month preparing for it. We had to design a structure this filled a city square and could stand up to 90 MPH winds, which was building code. The one-piece net was fabricated by the exact company I found in So Cal who built the cargo nets for the Space Shuttle. Kids in schools "sold" balloon sponsorships at 2 for a dollar that went to United Way. The goal was 2 million but we stopped at 1.4 + million.
Though the event was a spectacle, as can be seen from the photos below, Balloon Fest ended in tragedy.
As Viral Forest explains, a storm moved in and forced all of the balloons back over the city. Two fisherman whose boat had overturned were unable to be rescued because Coast Guard helicopters couldn't find the vessel beneath the impenetrable mass of balloons.