With a quick squeaky twist here and another there, a plain balloon can be quickly turned into something fun.
The man creating this fun is Larry Goodall or "The Balloon Man." You have probably seen him around "twisting," which is what he refers to as the act of creating his balloon creatures. But for Goodall, twisting is not something that he has done his whole life.
About three years ago, after a lengthy illness, Goodall decided to pull out a balloon twisting kit he had kicking around the house. The kit, which was given to him by his daughter for his birthday close to 10 years prior, turned out to be invaluable. One day while playing with the contents of the kit, his granddaughters stopped by. The excitement they had for what he was creating spurned something that keeps a smile on his and children's faces, something that he says he's "come to realize is God's work."
When out and about, he can be seen at times, decked in his balloon twisting garb: his signature long beard, the hat and, of course, the apron, with the pockets filled to the brim with balloons of assorted colours of the rainbow. Goodall and his materials are waiting and wanting to put a smile on someone else's face. His passion in life "is to make people laugh," he says. And that he does.
"If you come stand beside me while I am twisting you would see what I see, their smiling eyes and faces. And the looks of wonderment on the young and old alike is very rewarding."
Goodall does twist for birthday parties and other occasions such as weddings, charging by the occasion not by the hour, he says. And he will go "basically anywhere but the cost of parties will fluctuate depending on the distance." But he says, "when it's a non-profit group I don't charge unless it's over 50 miles, [then] I charge only for fuel".
When he isn't twisting at an occasion, he twists wherever he can, and doesn't expect a cent in return; the mall, Tim Hortons, even the local gas station while filling up his vehicle. He recently twisted at a North Stars game for the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life, using only dark blue and yellow balloons, Battlefords branch colors. But there are times when he has been blessed with a handshake filled with money as a thank you for his kindness or an unexpected gift in the mail. It's not just the community that supports him, his family is a huge supporter of what he does saying they, "support me wholeheartedly and enjoy helping me create new creations."
Goodall takes his talent out to most of the events in town that involve youth, and is always looking to spread the goodness he has been blessed with. Now, he is trying to incorporate his love into schools, locally and in surrounding communities. Lately, he has been traveling to Hutterite colonies. This month alone he visited Kyle Colony and Lakeview Colony. He says that at the colony, he basically "takes over the school" and takes the day to teach the kids how to twist. He prepares 200-300 balloons for them and then gives them to the students. From there, he gives them the chance to learn how to turn the plain balloon into something magical. But he says he is hoping to branch out and start teaching twisting to the local schools. He says he has recently done some twisting with the students of Norman Carter in Wilkie, which he says he will be doing again. In the future, Goodall would like to work with schools on the reserves as well; something he says is currently in the works.
This summer Goodall will be participating in another good cause. He will be participating in the Relay of Life, with his team "Bare the Balloon Man's Head," on June 6 in North Battleford. The event, he says, is something very important to him. If you wish to donate to his cause, feel free to contact the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life - Battlefords at 306-445-3339 or www.relayforlife.ca/sk. Click on the Battlefords Relay and then Bare the Balloon Man's Head. '
"I appreciate any support," says Goodall.
So when you see Larry around, make sure to say "hi" to the Balloon Man. And if he looks like he is having more fun than the kids he is trying to entertain, you may never really know, but he says he has been accused of that before!