Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Red Balloon

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

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In the late 60’s, we used to watch a TV program called CBS Children’s Film Festival, which featured children’s films from around the world. The show was hosted by Kukla, Fran, and Ollie (actress Fran Allison and puppets Kukla and Ollie).

I used to love that show but, surprisingly, the only film that stuck with me over the years was the 1956 Oscar-winning children’s film, “The Red Balloon.” This 34-minute film, which contains almost no dialogue, follows the adventures of a young boy who finds a red balloon in the streets of Paris on his way to school. The balloon seems to take a fancy to young Pascal and follows him everywhere, as if it has a mind of its own.

In the spring of 2017, on a photography trip to northern Ohio, Ruth and I decided to explore Cleveland’s historic Riverside Cemetery. Established in 1876 on 102.5 acres overlooking the Cuyahoga River, Riverside Cemetery was the first major-sized, non-sectarian, burial park established west of the Cuyahoga River. We arrived at dawn and, before we could even begin to explore the grounds, a steady rain began to fall.

There are many roads throughout this cemetery, so we chose one directly across from the entrance. The first thing we came to was the Urn Garden, set against a wooded hillside.

As I got out of the car into the rain to capture a few shots of the Urn Garden, we noticed that a group of deer were lounging and eating in the garden.

Beyond the Urn Garden was a section of the cemetery called Babyland. Burial grounds such as these always bring a sadness to my heart. So, I got out of the car to walk in the rain and contemplate.

Just then, way off in the distance, a red heart-shaped mylar balloon floated over the hill. In my contemplation, I hadn’t noticed it, but Ruth did. It was so far away that she had to look at it with her binoculars to see what it was. As she did this, she saw that it was floating in our direction. So, she pointed it out to me.

The wind had begun to pick up and gravesite decorations were beginning to move and spin. Miniature windchimes were ringing in the wind and rain. The little Muppet at the base of a colorful pinwheel seemed to be hanging on as the pinwheel rotated in the wind.

And all the while, the red heart-shaped balloon picked up speed as it floated on the wind toward us. It seemed to have a mind of its own, just like “The Red Balloon” in the children’s movie that I mentioned at the start of this story. I watched the red balloon with fascination as it floated down to the ground in front of me as if to greet me and eventually came to rest in the branches above me.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and whatever you’re doing, celebrating or not, Ruth and I wish you an enjoyable day!

Photos in this blog post can be purchased as wall art, paper prints, downloads, phone cases, and keepsakes by clicking on the photo. You will be taken to the gallery website where you will see a big blue "BUY" button. Or to see all photos available, click on the "Browse Galleries" button on the menu at the top of this page. Thank you for your interest!

Happy Shunpiking!


  1. What a lovely story, Joann. Happy Valentine's Day to you and Ruth!

  2. Great story and wonderful photos. Appreciate both of you!

    1. Thanks, Melanie. Good to see that you're still reading our blog stories. We need to get together the next time you're in Wisconsin.