Southern Shores Council passes balloon release ban

By on May 9, 2024

(Credit: M. Gosselin/NPS)

At its May 7 meeting, the Southern Shores Town Council, by a 3-0 vote of the three members attending the meeting, passed an ordinance banning the release of balloons in the town. In doing so, it became the second Dare County municipality, after Duck, to enact such a measure.

The May vote came roughly two months after the Southern Shores Council passed a resolution supporting the balloon release ban at its March 12 meeting and directed town staff to research and prepare an ordinance in time for the May meeting.

According to the Southern Shores ordinance, violations automatically trigger a $250 fine, which is recovered by the Town in a civil action in the nature of debt if the offender does not pay the penalty within 10 days after having been cited.

Another Dare County municipality also seems likely to pass a balloon release ban in the near future. The measure was on the agenda for the May 6 Kitty Hawk Town Council meeting. And Town Manager Melody Clopton told the Voice that at that meeting, town staff was directed to come up with an ordinance for consideration at the upcoming June 3 Town Council meeting.

Duck was the first town to approve a measure banning balloon releases on April 3. And the momentum to enact these bans appears to be gaining steam in other quarters.

Willo Kelly, CEO of the Outer Banks Association of Realtors, told the Voice last month that the organization has also taken action on the issue.

“Prohibiting the release is not within our purview, but we are encouraging our members to use pinwheels instead of helium balloons and to educate them as far as the negative environmental impacts of using helium balloons in their marketing,” Kelly said.

The primary argument by those advocating for balloon bans is their impact on the environment and wildlife. On its website, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service noted that “Birds, turtles and other animals commonly mistake balloons for food, which can harm or even kill them.” It also says that the strings used to hold balloons together also be a threat, noting that “many animals can become entangled in balloon strings, which can strangle them or hurt their feet and hands.”

SEE ALSO: Duck Council votes unanimously to ban balloon release


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  • Glenn

    Great news! Congratulations! Let’s keep it going throughout all municipalities.

    Thursday, May 9 @ 8:44 pm
  • WarmFuzzy

    Wow. I get the warm and fuzzys just reading!!!!! Yippeee!
    How will this be policed? Will the police departments fund a position to police the buying, selling, and handling of balloons? is it the same person that rides around and stops the implementation of fireworks that has been outlawed? if so, he or she is doing a poor job because fireworks are set off year round. Well, go get them. Get the no good folks and put them in jail.
    Silly Folks. This is a feel good do nothing policy.

    Friday, May 10 @ 11:09 am
  • Just Another Mike

    Proof that government can work together to solve major issues in our communities and put forth laws that will have huge sociable impacts. Great job passing another unenforceable law. And a hint, the people that get excited about this sort of thing already vote for you.

    Saturday, May 11 @ 7:17 am
  • Surf123

    The ordnance is dumb. The question I have is where were the other schmucks on the council who did not bother to show up. Either cowards or not taking their job seriously.

    Saturday, May 11 @ 3:45 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Let’s try to avoid words that may have become part of the vernacular, but literally refer to the male reproductive organ.

    Saturday, May 11 @ 5:00 pm
  • charlie

    For the folks with the sarcastic comments: Walk the beach Fnd a rotting corpse of a seagull See the bits of mylar balloons where the gull’s guts would have been Look seaward and, for a second, just imagine fish, turtles, whales, dolphin ingesting this man made silent killer…..

    Monday, May 13 @ 7:44 am
  • EveryOneWins

    @Charlie, thank you for the comment. it is sad and terrible. Taking a page from you Charlie, let’s ban alcohol. you should see the damage it does to families. loss of income, domestic violence, loss of jobs.. you should see the bleeding corpse of an innocent that was struck by a drunk driver.

    Tuesday, May 14 @ 2:43 pm