At 1986 the Balloonfest’86 event took place in which Cleveland, United Way in Ohio set a world record by releasing 1.5 million balloons. The Balloon art was coordinated by a Los Angeles based firm lead by Treb Heining. The event took six months to prepare. The balloon art was rectangular in a structure measuring 250 ft by150 ft and three stories high. The balloons were covered by a one-piece net to hold the balloons, at Public Square in Cleveland. 2,500 students and volunteers spent hours filling the helium balloons. The plan was to release 2 million balloons but stopped at 1.5 million. Moreover, children sold sponsorships for $1 for every two balloons to help United Way.

The Balloonfest was to be a harmless publicity stunt, but the balloons floated back over the City Lake Erie and surrounding areas. Furthermore, causing hassles for traffic and nearby located airport. The event had also caused problems with a United States Coast Guard who were searching for two boaters who were later found drowned. Both the organizers and city faced lawsuits with millions of dollars in damages, and expenses caused the event to be a failure. The balloons landed on a pasture in Medina Country, Ohio which scared the Arabian horses of Louise Nowakowski, which supposedly suffered permanent injuries. Louise Nowakowski sued the United Way for $100,000 in damages and settled for undisclosed terms.

The Guinness Book of World Records 1988 recorded the event as the “”largest-ever mass balloon release”, with 1,429,643 balloons released.