For many graduates, the dream of walking across a stage and getting their diploma or degree, turning their tassel, and celebrating with loved ones was years in the making.
And to see it end with a pandemic has left many scrambling to find alternative plans that include social distancing to avoid contracting or spreading the virus.
Grant Park resident Maureen Dougher decided to turn a negative into a positive by posting a pop-up balloon display in Grant Park near the Milledge Fountain for graduates to use as a picture backdrop.
Dougher temporarily stopped the pop-ups Sunday after the city notified her that balloons aren’t allowed in the park unless they are for permitted special events.
“I just really thought the graduates and their families need to be celebrated and recognized and have an opportunity to create a memory with their cap and gowns that don’t seem to be getting much use,” said Dougher, who owns balloon company Ballooned Away.
Dougher founded Ballooned Away in 2014 to “bring people joy and bring smiles.” This time of year is typically a busy season with weddings and graduations, but Dougher has had to get creative during the pandemic by making yard art — displays to honor a special occasion.
She hopes to bring back balloon displays for graduates by finding local businesses that will allow her to put them up at their locations. “I’m happy to reach out to anyone that would like to work with me to have them up through the end of the month of June if I can find locations that will allow that,” Dougher said.
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