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A grassroots arts event launched in Juneau has gone global.
On Wednesday, balloon artists around the world will twist inflated latex into balloon animals to benefit charities. The event is the brainchild of Juneau balloon twister Jeff Brown.
Brown initially hoped to involve about 200 balloon twisters, at least one in each state. They would each donate an hour of their time for a charity in their community. He said more than 250 balloon twisters were to participate in 43 states, two Canadian territories and eight other countries including Singapore and Argentina. The governors of Nevada, Rhode Island, Indiana, Missouri and Alaska proclaimed Oct. 4 as Balloons Across America Day.
"It's really been cool," Brown said Monday. "One woman has got 30 kids in her church youth group taking part in it. Another is taking donations for the local volunteer fire department in Lugoff, South Carolina."
Brown said one twister is making balloon flowers for the Meals on Wheels program in Odessa, Texas. A group of Girl Scout twisters will collect donations of canned food for their local food bank in exchange for their balloon artistry. Others are twisting balloons in malls, libraries, school, child-care facilities, nursing homes and hospitals.
"It's all volunteer," he said.
Balloons Across America was organized almost entirely through the Internet, using the network of balloon artists who subscribe to Balloon HQ (www.balloonhq.com). There is no corporate sponsorship and Brown coordinated the event as a volunteer from his home in Juneau.
"It was something I just dreamed up and, thanks to the Internet, a guy like me in Alaska can help spread smiles around the world," Brown said.
Juneau participants will twist balloons during the noon hour Sandra Galeana at the Mendenhall Mall and Buttons the Clown (Jim Barnes) and Ed Schauwecker at the State Office Building atrium. Local twisters will be working on behalf of the United Way.
Brown said the balloons are specially made for sculpting from biodegradable latex rubber.
More information and a list of participating twisters can be found through Hot Links at juneauempire.com.