On Saturday, Sept. 27, 1986, close to 1.5 million balloons boiled up from Cleveland’s Public Square, engulfing Terminal Tower and setting a world record. In the hours and days and weeks that followed, the United Way executives who had engineered the feat were reminded of the basic law of gravity: What goes up must come down…

Down, in this case, on Burke Lakefront Airport, shutting down a runway there. Down on a pasture in Medina County, spooking a horse, whose owner would sue and later settle with the charity. Down on Lake Erie, blanketing the water just as a Coast Guard helicopter arrived to search for two missing boaters - who would later be found, drowned; the wife of one of them also sued, and also settled. Down weeks later on the shores of the lake - the northern shores, where Ontario residents found their beaches littered with thousands of deflated balloons. (+,+,+)

PHOTOS: © David I. Andersen, Sep. 27, 1986, Balloonfest in Cleveland

Here’s a short news report about the event / Headline News, 1986:

Special thanks go to the people who are not only interested in the nice looking pictures but also in the terrible stories behind them. This was, inter ilia, an environmental disaster caused by some narrow-minded PR agents - but he who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw one of those free plastic bags at them…

To be serious: Please think about it every time someone offers you a free plastic bag. Do you accept it automatically? Do you really need it? Isn’t a cloth or paper bag the better choice?