'Balloon run' to take place without balloons

Users thanked organisers on the event's Facebook page for scrapping plans to distribute helium balloons.
Users thanked organisers on the event's Facebook page for scrapping plans to distribute helium balloons.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ CENTRAL SINGAPORE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL

Event organisers scrap idea over concerns that balloons will create litter, harm wildlife

Some air was taken out of a planned novelty "balloon run" - one where participants would hold on to balloons as they completed a course - after organisers scrapped a seemingly key component: balloons.

But the decision, which was made based on the potential impact those balloons might have had on the environment, did not appear to deflate the mood for the October event. Instead, the announcement on the event's Facebook page last week garnered positive responses.

Users thanked organisers for scrapping plans to distribute helium balloons, which they say could float away and end up as litter on Singapore's roads and waterways, and pose a risk to wildlife that may ingest the discarded material.

The Run for Good Balloon Run is organised by the Central Singapore Community Development Council (CDC) and the Kampong Glam Community Sports Club.

Balloons will still be used to decorate the event venue, and runners will learn how to craft simple balloon sculptures during the event.

But extra trash bins will be provided to ensure the balloons are disposed of properly, organisers told The Straits Times. "Volunteer marshals will also go around to help runners dispose their trash and ensure that the environment is kept clean," said a spokesman for the CDC.

The green initiatives were implemented after people took to the event's Facebook page earlier this month to express concerns about the possibility of balloons ending up as litter. Earlier publicity material had said that helium balloons would be distributed to participants running the 2km or 5km route in Lavender. Organisers have since decided to not give these out.

KEEPING ENVIRONMENT CLEAN

Volunteer marshals will also go around to help runners dispose their trash and ensure that the environment is kept clean.

A SPOKESMAN FOR THE CDC.

A CDC spokesman said balloons were chosen for the event as they bring people joy and make them smile. "We wanted an element of happiness while encouraging more people to Run for Good."

The event aims to get residents to run for a good cause. Participants pay $12 to take part, with proceeds going to Hope Centre and Peace Connect, which help vulnerable children, families and elderly people.

The CDC spokesman said it was aware of Singaporeans' concerns for the environment, and that it was happy to incorporate their feedback. But "we would also like to invite any concerned environment community group to, in future, approach us directly to discuss, share their concerns and knowledge".

Ms Ria Tan, an environmentalist who had called on organisers to reconsider distributing helium balloons, said she was glad that the CDC had scrapped plans for them after hearing about their harmful effects. Added Ms Tan, who runs wildlife site wildsingapore.com: "Hopefully, for their next mass event, they could consider more environmentally- friendly alternatives."

The CDC added: "We are constantly learning and looking at ways to improve how we run our programmes."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2017, with the headline ''Balloon run' to take place without balloons'. Print Edition | Subscribe