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Grand Forks woman joins team of balloon professionals in Florida to help create 'balloon wonderland' for kids

Kauffman, who has been a balloon professional for 14 years and owns Balloons By Misti, was selected to join a team of international balloon professionals to create a giant immersive “balloon

Misti Kauffman.jpg
Misti Kauffman opened Balloons by Misti in Grand Forks' Columbia Mall in March 2020. Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — When she received the news, Misti Kauffman was thrilled to be a part of something she believed will truly make a difference.

“It's going to be exciting,” Kauffman said. “There’s six different teams of people doing different parts of things, and I’m on the Safari Jungle.”

Kauffman, who has been a balloon professional for 14 years and owns Balloons By Misti in the Columbia Mall, was selected to join a team of international balloon professionals to create a giant immersive “balloon wonderland” using more than 300,000 balloons for the Give Kids the World Village in Kissimmee, Florida. She will leave Saturday, July 9, and spend the next Monday through Friday working on the project.

The Give Kids the World Village, which opened in 1989, is an 89-acre, nonprofit resort where children with critical illnesses and their families can visit for cost-free, week-long vacations, which are meant to be a diversion from hospital visits and treatments the children usually undergo on a regular basis.

The balloon professionals will create several themed areas, such as Toyland, the Enchanted Forest, Under the Sea and Safari Jungle, which Kauffman will help build, in a nearly 30,000-square-foot area with the purpose of supporting critically ill children from across the United States and providing their families with joy and memories.

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I'm just so excited,” Kauffman said, adding she applied back in December for the event. “I can hardly wait. I feel like I'm a kid in the candy store.”

Kauffman has created large three-dimensional balloon sculptures before for parties, weddings and other events, but nothing quite like what she will help create next week. The undertaking is something she is looking forward to taking on.

“(The children) put their name on a star, and everybody gets to put their wish in there,” Kauffman said. “They're incorporating that into the middle (and) we’re building all the balloon stuff around it.”

Kauffman and the other balloon professionals have been meeting on Zoom each week to learn what they are building.

“Friday is the reveal for all of us,” Kauffman said. “So in five days, we're taking (300,000) balloons and creating amazing things with it, so we're transforming all of that.”

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Kelley Palmiscno, owner of Picks, suspects that overall, more people are turning to resale and thrift stores to find a good deal. “I think people are getting a little bit thriftier,” she said.

There are about 300 balloon professionals from around the world participating, so they have been trying to coordinate their efforts in advance as much as possible. Kauffman said she knew of professionals from Portugal, France and more participating, and it has been rewarding to work with them.

“I forget how many different languages will be spoken, and just the universal language of balloons is completely different,” Kauffman said. “It’s exciting to do that and to be a part of that.”

Kauffman said the “universal language of balloons” is something everyone can appreciate no matter where they live or what language they speak, and she is eager to get started.

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“It doesn't matter what country you're from or where you are," Kauffman said, "balloons just speak happiness and love and communicate in a way that nothing else can."

Related Topics: LOCAL BUSINESS
Jacob Holley joined the Grand Forks Herald as its business reporter in June 2021.

Holley's beat at the Grand Forks Herald is broad and includes a variety of topics, including small business, national trends and more.

Readers can reach Holley at jholley@gfherald.com.Follow him on Twitter @JakeHolleyMedia.
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