Local artist creates balloon sculptures to ‘inflate’ positivity

Positively KELOLAND

VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) – If you’ve visited Vermillion over the past few weekends, chances are you might have seen several balloon sculptures around town. What started out a simple hobby for Michele Turner quickly inflated into something to help brighten her community.

It’s fair to say Michele Turner has been a little tied up during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“About two weeks in, when our kids had been home for a little while, I had noticed they were just feeling a little stir crazy and just needing to get out of the house, so I turned to my husband and said, ‘I want to do something,'” Balloon Artist Michele Turner said.

She’s been practicing balloon art for 12 years. Recently, she’s spent her time creating balloon sculptures.

“I wanted to so something for them and maybe our community that will help brighten them up – cheer them up,” Turner said.

During the weekends, she creates and scatters sculptures around for the community to find. She posts clues on Facebook and, ever since, her popularity has inflated.

“It was so… it was just so big, I think about 17,000 of that post alone,” Turner said.

It takes her anywhere from 5 to 10 hours to prepare one of her balloon hunts. Her most recent Ice Cream sculpts can be found outside of the Sanford Medical Clinic promoting their Ice Cream social.

“You know, her creativity is just amazing,” Sanford Medical Clinic Ancillary Manager Cindy Benzel said.

Turner says she hopes her colorful creations can sprinkle a little joy into the community and the cherry on top is seeing that impact.

“People’s comments were… just how it really brightened their day, how their kids loved it, or they loved it,” Turner said.

“They go through the community looking to see what her new invention, her new creation will be and where she’s placed it. So it just makes everyone smile at this time,” Benzel said.

She used to make five per weekend, now, she’s dialed it back to one because of how long they take to make. But Turner says she’ll happily continue to make more.

“If people like seeing them, I’m happy to build them. If it helps cheer someone up it’s worth my time,” Turner said.

Turner also makes personal balloon requests and for events. You can see more sculptures and contact her through Red Bird Balloon’s Facebook page.

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