On a nice day, a couple hundred people walk by the Golds’ house on the south end of the Magnolia bluff. Their street gets a lot of foot traffic anyway, but now there are even more people (carefully socially distant) coming by to see the balloon displays in front of their home.
The first design, an enormous basket flanked by carrots, went out the weekend before Easter. Then an abstract group of balloon fountains, and a sunflower. Balloon designer Adrianne Gold has more ideas in the works; she’s just waiting for another stretch of nice weather.
“I find a ton of joy in creating pieces and using color and watching other people enjoy them,” Gold said. “It’s just a lot of fun for me.”
Gold owns a one-woman balloon design business, Color Pop Design, which she runs out of her home. At any given time, she has an inventory of 10,000 to 12,000 balloons filed away in her basement, organized by size and color. In March, the gigs she’d booked — corporate events, a wedding — all got canceled. Gold turned her creative energy to her front yard.
“Just bringing smiles to my neighborhood was my goal,” Gold said. “It makes me feel good that people are enjoying them.”
When she finishes a new display, she posts on a neighborhood Facebook group and invites everyone to come by, with the caveat that people need to respect social distancing. The idea is to cheer up neighborhood families during a time when everyone is stuck at home. (Her own boys, 3 and 7, haven’t even left their street in weeks.)
Each design takes a couple of hours to build; materials run about $35. When its time is up, Gold carefully pops all the balloons, breaking them down into a little pile.
That’s the thing about balloons, she said: “You can make a huge impact visually with a tiny impact on the Earth.”
Inspired to learn a new skill during quarantine? There are tons of great tutorials on YouTube for balloon garlands, centerpieces, animals, anything you can think of. Gold herself learned the trade from watching online tutorials and taking classes. She went from a stay-at-home mom who loved decorating her kids’ birthday parties to opening her own balloon design business. Last year, Gold even did a party for Edgar Martinez, celebrating his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Her youngest, who just turned 3, learned his colors because of the balloons that are always around the house. Juliet, her 17-year-old daughter, tells her all the time: “Mom, I’m so proud of you. This is so cool.”
These days, it’s Gold who’s having a blast watching all the people stop at her house and take pictures. “It’s for me,” she said. “My kids at this point are totally unimpressed by balloons. ‘Oh yeah, Mom. We’ve seen it all.’ ”
On a recent day, Annavel Helms walked her two girls, 6 and 8, a half-mile over to see the balloons. It was a good excuse to get everyone out of the house for a little bit, and the balloons made for an uplifting destination. Under the stay-at-home order, “it’s getting a little daunting because they want to kill each other now,” she said about the kids. “Some days are worse than others.”
Dan Sabath and his daughter, 8, went for a 3-mile bike ride looping past the Golds’ house. With everyone working from home, the hardest part is getting regular exercise in. “We do it infrequently at best,” Sabath said. He had seen a Facebook post about the balloons, and wanted to surprise his daughter.
At the balloon house, they hopped off their bikes to get a photo. “It was really cool,” Sabath said. “Good reason for a bike ride. It provided a smile. And that’s worth the trip.”