Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Balloons will enliven parade

Balloon artist Ryan Oelrich works on his Chinese luck dragon in his home on Sunday. He is creating the dragon, a dancer and a French horn the size of a car for First Night activities. 
 (Photos by Christopher Anderson / The Spokesman-Review)

Three giant creations by balloon ace Ryan Oelrich will thrill thousands of spectators at today’s First Night Spokane events.

A playful, 30-foot-long Chinese luck dragon, a swirling, 12-foot ballerina and a French horn the size of a car – all created from 1,800 bright balloons – will enliven the Mardi Gras-style Masquerade Parade that begins the evening’s activities.

The 6 p.m. parade will flow from the Spokane Convention Center into Riverfront Park, ending at Gondola Meadows near the Looff Carrousel.

It’ll kick off New Year’s Eve fireworks and artist presentations throughout the city’s center.

Those who wish may catch Oelrich and his crew bringing the balloon sculptures to fruition from 3 to 6 p.m. today in the convention center’s Group Health Exhibit Hall.

Oelrich said he’ll be bouncing around and making balloon animals for childen, who also will be invited to autograph the sculptures.

“There’s no Balloon University,” joked 25-year-old Oelrich, who’s been perfecting the self-taught art since he was 12.

He hopes kids and grownups will enjoy and take inspiration from his floating sensations.

“Obviously, my craft is a unique and odd art form,” he said in his studio, the playful looking dragon’s head afloat in a corner while the golden horn’s bell and a ballerina’s leg rested on the floor.

“I want for kids to see they can find a niche, pour energy into that and it can turn into something that will serve your life well,” Oelrich said.

The sculptures will be on display at River Park Square for a week.