Tate and I had the pleasure of being Balloon Handlers in the Skywalkers Parade on Miami Beach during Art Basel. We got there Thursday, December 7th at 11am ready for action.
It was an amazing experience. When we first arrived only a few of the smaller balloons were inflated. We oohed and ahhed over them - so bright and pretty and fun! Soon the time came for us to assist in the inflation of our balloon, Fuji-san by Misaki Kawai and got to witness the birth of so many others. Our balloon was quite large and had many people working on it. Turns out they were all AWESOME and we all bonded for life.
For a few hours we sat on a tarp in the sand holding onto Fuji-san's strings to keep him from escaping. We all chatted and drank our free Smart Water and sweated a bit. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Not too windy, which would have been a disaster for the parade!
We had the pleasure of meeting Friends With You, Sam and Tury who were most gracious and appreciative of our efforts. Everyone was very excited and happy to be there. Lots of touristy folks couldn't believe their eyes. Children loved it... it will certainly be a part of their childhood memories! We also met David Choe who painted a crazy Scion truck thing. It had a drum kit in the back with David rode along and played during the parade.
Once the parade finally started (I think the Wrapped Phantasm took a very long time to inflate) we trucked along the sand with ease. We all were surprised at how smoothly it went for us! The fine men who designed/built the balloons had warned us that Fuji-san was an untested design and could be difficult to handle. Nope! Either we were all very advanced balloon handlers or Fuji-san just liked us all very much!
There was a crazy tree balloon in front of us that seemed out of control most of the time. He wanted to escape for sure! Directly behind us was ZoZo (the universe itself) who took his sweet time getting where he was going. :-)
Lots of folks came out to see the spectacle of the parade! At one point all of us Fuji-san handlers saw Ron English in the crowd and we yelled out "Hi Ron!" he looked a little stunned and gave us a hesitant wave hello. The walk was long and short at the same time. We were sorry to have it be over, but also completely exhausted from the sun shining down on us for hours!
As we "parked" Fuji-san to get deflated another phase of fun began. Helium sucking, funny talking and balloon jumping commenced. It was quite a spectacle to see it all come down as well... we all went on to the hip, happening after party where we gratefully gobbled up little, tiny appetizers and drank free drinks.
Many, many artists were there as well. It was a really nice crowd, everyone was jovial and triumphant! All in all it was a magnificent experience, one none of us will ever forget. Thank you sincerely to Friends With You for creating such an event! Hip Hip Hooray!!
See LOTS more photos in our Skywalkers Parade Album!