OC Kids Launch Contest to Pull Discarded Balloons from the Water

The contest has already brought in more than 530 balloons. Photo: Blume’s Balloon Round Up/Facebook

An ongoing competition created by Ocean City siblings Josh, 12, and Emily Blume, 10,  is prompting boaters to clean up the Bay, one balloon at a time.

Josh and Emily’s father, Luke Blume, is a charter boat captain. Josh said his dad had been seeing more and more balloons floating around the Bay, so the kids hatched an idea to remedy the problem. With the help of their family, Josh and Emily have set up a contest to see which boat can pull the most balloons out of the Bay.

“We know that marine life will mistake them for food or become entangled in them and either way, they will die,” Josh said. “We just thought if we could figure out a way to get more people to collect them when they see them, we could help some animals.”

The “Blume’s Balloon Round Up” Facebook page acts as the hub for all contest activity. Anyone willing to participate can call or text Luke Blume at 410-251-1889 to drop off what they’ve collected. Balloons are tallied and on September 30, the boats that can rack up the most will be awarded for their service to the Bay.

What started as a $100 cash prize quickly snowballed into potential first, second, and third place prizes with gift cards and merchandise donated from local businesses like the restaurant Fishtails and Atlantic Tackle.

“The fishing community has embraced it and they’re having so much fun,” said Josh and Emily’s mother, Cathy Blume. “These big, burly fishermen with these silly little decorative Mylar balloons around their heads and necks, it’s really a sight to see.”

The Blume family is hoping to have collected at least 1,000 balloons by the end of the competition. They’re well on their way with more than 530 balloons collected so far from 62 participating boats.

-Charlie Youngmann