BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — There has been an ongoing debate on banning balloon releases throughout the parish. On Wednesday night, the East Baton Rouge Metro Council decided to not back an ordinance that would have banned balloon releases. The vote was 6-4.
EBR Metro Councilwoman Laurie Adams introduced the ordinance to try and decrease litter and harm to animals in the parish. The ban would have banned the release of 10 or more balloons into the sky. It would also have provided harsher penalties for those who organized the releases.
If the item would have passed, fines would have been set at $100 for a first offense and $250 if someone was caught after that. Multiple people took to the podium during the meeting, some for and others against the proposal.
Local veterinarian Emily Taylor took to the podium and showed photos of animals choking and dying on balloons. Taylor called the photos of the animals “disheartening” and suggested ways for this to be preventable.
“It’s so unnecessary because there’s so many other ways to memorialize somebody,” said Taylor.
Taylor suggested options like planting a tree or having a candlelight ceremony.
EBR Metro Councilman Darryl Hurst has been against the item since the beginning. During the meeting he asked government officials to take the stand, asking about their findings on balloons in either “landfills” or other “blighted” areas.
All who were called up to the podium said that there were “no findings” of balloons anywhere.
Hurst said that balloon releases are a part of “minority culture.” Hurst said that if balloons are banned for litter or harming the environment, then Mardi Gras beads should be banned too.
“If we’re not going to take away the culture of South Louisiana, then don’t take away the culture of minorities, thank you for your time,” said Hurst.
Joseph London and LaTesha Dorsey who both lost loved ones defended the agreement with the councilman. Both lost loved ones and honored them with balloon releases.
Adams also brought up having biodegradable Mardi Gras beads to cut down on plastic. As of now, those in East Baton Rouge Parish will continue to be allowed to release an unlimited amount of balloons.