When I was a kid growing up in the late 70's - early 80's, things were different. Lots of bad ideas played out in the public eye. Folks in Oregon tried to blow up a beached whale to get rid of it. There was a 10-cent beet night at a baseball game, and the stadium was pretty much destroyed... You get the idea.
There was one particular funny/scary incident in 1986 that I remember like it was yesterday. In Cleveland that year, they wanted to set the world record for launching helium balloons. 1.5 million of them in fact. It wreaked unbelievable havoc upon the city. Interfering with flights, untold amounts of litter, etc. Here, check it out yourself.
Fast forward to today, and lots of states have been banning the large-scale release of latex balloons. And now Maine is joining them. According to CentralMaine.com, state lawmakers have now banned the intentional release of more than 16 balloons. That number seems oddly random, but hey, I'm no legislator.
It's not a massive fine, but it's not small. Failure to follow the new law could fetch a fine of $500. But the thing is, when these balloons come back down, they cause all sorts of trouble for many different forms of wildlife. The balloons are often mistaken for food, and when animals eat the balloons, if untreated they will likely die.
Now, if your kid has a balloon from the fair and accidentally loses it, there won't be a fine for you. There's no new balloon police force being sent out to bust moms and dads for giving their kids balloons that get away. But no longer will folks be able to release large piles of them as a celebratory event, as it will be considered littering.
The bill has not officially been signed by Gov. Mills, but it looks to be headed to her desk anytime. Naturally, a lot of people will misunderstand the purpose and make this some sort of political problem versus protecting Maine's beloved wildlife. But hey, you can only please all of the people, some of the time, right?