New billboard asks Husker Nation to stop traditional balloon release

LINCOLN, Neb. - The balloon release is a time-honored tradition. Since the 1960's, after the first touchdown of every home football game, Husker fans release balloons into the air.

"It's just really neat," said Clair Hall, a Husker fan. "The air just turns red.

While Husker fans love the tradition, one organization calls it harmful to the environment. Balloons Blow, based out of Florida, recently put up a billboard on Highway 2 in Lincoln, telling Nebraskans to "Quit littering. Stop the balloon release."

"Sometimes people who wouldn't normally litter on the ground won't think twice about throwing litter into the sky," said Balloons Blow co-founder Danielle Vosburgh. "Balloon releases are littering."

Vosburgh said the billboard will be up for the next four weeks. She has put a similar billboard up in Orlando.

Vosburgh said the three largest contributors to balloon pollution are Clemson University, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the University of Nebraska.

"We've been bugging them for years about it, and finally Clemson has stopped their balloon release," Vosburgh said. "They are finally realizing that balloon releases have no place in modern society."

Husker fans said they aren't sure they agree.

"Taking away the balloon release would be like taking away Scott Frost," Hall said.

Bao Feng Zhou, a University of Nebraska student, said, as an environmental scientist, he would like to see a compromise.

"I think maybe we could reduce the number of balloons or find a different way to improve that tradition," Zhou said. "As a Nebraska football fan, I want to keep the traditions, but I also want to do what's best for the environment."

In an email, the University of Nebraska told 1011 that it would not stop its balloon release tradition. It said it recognizes the concerns of Balloons Blow, and also cares about the environment.

"Every balloon released in Memorial Stadium is 100 percent natural latex biodegradable, as purchased from Midwest Balloon in Omaha," said Leslie Reed, Director of Public Affairs at the university. "In addition, we do not use plastic tabs to tie off the balloons and we use 100 percent cotton strings."