Kitty Hawk becomes fourth Dare County town to ban balloon releases

By on June 5, 2024

(Cape Hatteras National Seashore file photo)

Update: The Town of Kill Devil Hills now reports having a draft ordinance regarding a balloon release ban on the agenda for its July 8 Board of Commissioners meeting.


At the June 3 meeting of its Town Council, Kitty Hawk became the fourth Dare County municipality to approve a ban on releasing balloons within its borders in the past two months. After a brief discussion of the Council, the measure passed on a unanimous voice vote.

The ordinance states that it is illegal “to intentionally release any inflated balloon within town limits” and carries a civil penalty of $250 for violators. Since April 3, when Duck became the first municipality in the county to approve a ban on releasing balloons, Southern Shores, Nags Head and now Kitty Hawk have followed suit.

According to Debbie Swick, who has been the driving advocate and catalyst behind the movement to ban balloon releases, the Kill Devil Hills Commissioners are expected to vote on a similar ordinance at their June 10 meeting. Swick plans on making her presentation urging a balloon release ban to the Manteo Board of Commissioners at their July meeting.

And at their June 3 meeting, the Dare County Board of Commissioners scheduled a July 15 public hearing on a balloon release ban measure that would apply to the unincorporated areas of the county.

Asked about her reaction to the swift sequence of bans adopted in the past two months, Swick told the Voice that “it is beyond overwhelming, and I have to say the credit goes to the residents,” and she added, local officials.

She believes the drive to stop the release of balloons—which advocates point out does significant harm to wildlife and the environment—is a sentiment that “this has to stop. These are our beaches. This is our wildlife…This is kinship with our ocean…Putting a law on the books is only as good as the education behind it.”

Asked about the criticism of the bans that most frequently surfaces—that these new regulations are an “enforcement nightmare,” Swick says she believes they will function as a deterrent. “Kudos to the towns,” she added, citing the $250 fines that have been widely enacted. And she asserted that people are out there watching, or as she puts it, “there are so many balloon warriors up and down the coast.”



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  • WindyBill

    When Dare County gets on board it will be time for a permanent PR campaign. A handout to all visitors checking in for a stay is a good start. If it cannot fit on one folded 8 1/2 x 11 it is Too wordy. Include only the important stuff like balloons, riptides, Stop for pedestrians etc. Should be funded by Tourist Bureau, after we do(?) want the visitors to come back, but definately to leave alive and leaving no harm.

    Wednesday, Jun 5 @ 6:32 pm
  • CT

    Great move, now, have the towns enforce the current laws against Beachmasters, who hide and stash their orange rental canopies on our dunes all week because they are too lazy to take them down and off the beach each night.

    Wednesday, Jun 5 @ 7:29 pm
  • plastic kills sea life

    I’m all in for banning balloon releases and I also signed the Kitty Hawk petition. Why then, in 2017 was the plastic grocery bag ban repealed? There are more of them floating and flying around than balloons.

    Wednesday, Jun 5 @ 8:18 pm
  • Phoebe

    The plastic grocery bag ban was repealed after several years of being in place due to in part “Bag Lady” Boswell. It became a very political issue here and also ended her political career. The grocery stores who paid the extra cost had come to accept it. Everything in Dare County has become Red or Blue, Left or Right, etc. It appears things are slowly changing here… But only after much damage has already been done on many issues.

    Thursday, Jun 6 @ 10:11 am
  • Lilly


    Good idea. And add digging beach holes to that list.

    Thursday, Jun 6 @ 10:17 am
  • BalloonPoPo

    Where can I apply to become the Balloon Police?

    Thursday, Jun 6 @ 10:43 am
  • Charles

    Now to deal with fireworks…..wait we already did. And they still bring them.

    Thursday, Jun 6 @ 2:29 pm
  • Paul

    Great Picture! Love the unhappy balloon.

    Friday, Jun 7 @ 12:14 pm
  • Arthur Pewty

    Can they please ban cornhole? At least that would be a useful bit of government overreach.

    Sunday, Jun 9 @ 6:10 pm
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