New Laws for Hamptons Party Balloons

Balloon Cartoon by Dan Rattiner
Cartoon by Dan Rattiner

For years, party balloons were freely floated up to the ceilings at celebrations throughout the Hamptons to offer joy to whomever was being honored. When the parties ended, the balloons were supposed to be deflated and thrown in the trash. But with too much to drink, wonderful memories and getting ready for bed, who has time to do that? Hopefully the cleanup people would do it, maybe in the morning.

Well, we all know what happens. The balloons, some of them, get out into the air and rise up into the sky. There, meeting the trade winds and the Gulf Stream, they get pushed around this way and that and then dropped down into the ocean where waves float them ashore to become long lines of small, wrinkled, smudged but glittering and still partially inflated message deliverers, still waving fiercely on their strings a few feet above the sand.

Congratulations, Herman. Bar Mitzvah Boy Bernie! Joe and Joy’s Wedding! It’s a Boy! Honoring Our New Deacon!

Many, many people take walks along the shoreline of our 60 miles of long sandy beaches in the Hamptons. Far from the stress of the city, these folks walk the beaches either alone or in pairs to enjoy the soothing sounds and sights of the sea, the sun, the salt sea air, the shells, crabs, seagulls, seaweed, driftwood, sand and especially the … what is this? Oh, no!

And so, as you may know, 10 years ago, finally, laws were passed in the Hamptons to make people take responsibility for their wrongdoings. It was not hard to locate the criminals. They were the party-givers for the Hermans, Deacons, Joes and Joys whose names were now waving crookedly on the beach in the breeze. And so, the party-givers were notified, ticketed, arrested, sentenced and fined $200 for the first offense, and increasingly, a double amount for each occasion that the perpetration of the crimes by particular party-givers persisted.

But the party-givers thought this unfair. These releases were an accident. They’d done their best. But still some got out. Now they had to pay and pay.

And so, four years ago, new laws went into effect, giving the party-givers an exemption if, when a balloon got loose at the party and floated into the sky, they immediately called the town police who would track it, fetch it when it came down, pop it immediately and dispatch it to the trash.

This became an excellent solution for almost everybody. The beaches were clean for the beach walkers. The party-givers were considered whistleblowers. The only group dissatisfied was the Hamptons police, who soon were spending nearly a quarter of their annual budgets tracking down and disposing of these errant floaters, as they referred to them.

And so now, after much debate, Hampton Town has, working with our local congressman, succeeded this week in getting still better laws passed that fix the problem, not only here in the Hamptons, but on ocean, lake and harbor beaches around the country. It’s a solution to a national problem first reported in the Hamptons.

Henceforth, whistleblowers will no longer be calling the police, but instead will call the federal authorities, who, within minutes, will launch a fighter such as an F-15 into the sky to track a balloon scudding along the sky and shoot it down with a single missile shot.

The bill became law this week, actually two laws, after congressional Republicans and Democrats, each offering totally different versions, lined up their supporters to denounce the other’s proposal, but were finally brought into unanimous agreement for the first time by passing both bills, which will allow American citizens to choose which version they wish to abide by.

In the Republican version, whistleblowers could take care of it personally, needing only to call the colonels in the military aircraft hangars at the nearest Air Force base to inform them of the location where the helium balloons got loose so the planes could, within a minute, be launched to get up there, find it and dispatch it.

In the Democratic version, whistleblowers call an 800 number where operators, in newly constructed office buildings, are standing by to relay the information to newly created state committees whose members will, by unanimous consent, approve the launch, get their particular governor to sign the order, and have President Joe Biden do the same, followed by a further signature from the secretary of defense after consulting with a citizens’ committee in the district where the offense is taking place that consists of environmentalists, union officials and job equality leaders to then instruct the general of the Air Force to order a scramble at the nearest military base, so planes will be in the air to follow the balloon until it is over water but still within American jurisdiction, to fire the missile to do the job — usually within minutes.

Finally, our skies and beaches will be completely free of helium balloons. Everybody will be happy. And a new way of getting our divided government into action has been found.

And it all came about because of what happened in the Hamptons!

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