A helium shortage is threatening the time-honored tradition of the launch of 5,000 balloons at the Nebraska Huskers' Memorial Stadium when the team makes their first touch down.
Athletics officials at the university of Nebraska-Lincoln stated that the launch of the 5,000 red balloons will not happen this year,because of the helium shortage, reports The Omaha World-Herald.
The NU athletic department will use their remaining helium tanks (about eight or nine) that were left over from last year to fill about 2,500 balloons and launch them during the Huskers' September 1 home opener, but the balloons will not re-emerge until the helium shortage is over, which could be years, if it ever abates at all.
The decision was made to do away with the tradition after school officials decided that the remaining commercial helium, which is taken from underground deposits, is more needed in places like hospitals to cool MRI machines than it is to fill balloons, even though the NU tradition dates back to the early 1940s. Ethan Rowley, NU director of athletic marketing, stated:
"We want to be good stewards. We don't want to take away helium from hospitals and industries that need it more than we do right now."
Nebraska is now looking at alternative ways to keep the Huskers' balloon-releasing tradition alive, hording one helium tank for each of the 2012 season's home games, sparingly blowing up a few balloons for a "Touchdown Balloon Kid of the Game" to float into the sky. Rowley stated:
"That would allow us to keep a small measure of the tradition through the hiatus. Whenever the helium supply is restored, we can explore the opportunity to restart our tradition, which seems to be a fan favorite and one of our most visible."
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