Balloon Adventure by Airigami in Rochester January 29 – February 7, 2016

Update January 27, 2016

Larry Moss and his international crew of artists invited my 15 year old daughter Evie and I to the Balloon Adventure construction site for an inside look at this year’s creation. Balloon artist Andrew Weaver (Air Weaver Balloons and Magic) of Sunbury, PA took us under his wing, and taught us the basics of balloon twisting – the balloon dog. We felt a huge sense of accomplishment tying our first balloon dogs and tossing them on the “dog pile” to become green loops of natural grass for Airigami’s Journey on the Genesee.

airigami balloon adventureairigami balloon adventure

Andrew pointed out the various aspects of the large-scale project including incredibly elaborate balloon animals, a waterfall, and weeping willow. One is quickly impressed with the skill and accomplishment of the artists, but also the scientific precision of the piece. The “inflatinator” fills each balloon with the perfect amount of air to make the delicate curves and shapes of the artwork.

airigami balloon adventure

Deborah Fellman taught us a “distortion technique” used to make a field of fungi. Four balloons were created each individual mushroom, looped and inflated inside the red & white polka dotted cap, in a maneuver my clumsy fingers could not master.

airigami balloon adventure

I’ve always been impressed with the Balloon Manor displays built by Airigami to brighten up our Rochester winters, but even more so after my meager attempt at the “art of the twist.” I asked Evie what she thought of our experience, “I’m glad I turned off my video game to come,” she replied. And for the Dad of a teen, there’s not much higher praise than that. Airigami’s Journey on the Genesee is unveiled to the public on Friday, January 29th, and remains on display entirely free of charge until Sunday, February 7.

Original post from January 7 follows below

For the past two years, artists Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle of Airigami (“the fine art of folding air”) have created immense 5-story balloon art installations in Downtown Rochester, New York to bring a little whimsy to the winter season.  In 2014, Airigami told the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, and 2015 brought an Undersea Adventure to the Historic Sibley Building’s atrium.  Airigami announced their 2016 Balloon Adventure will be a “Journey on the Genesee” complete with waterfalls and all the natural beauty found along the river.  Continue reading for more details on how you can get involved with Airigami’s Balloon Adventure: Journey on the Genesee.

From Airigami’s Press Release

Rochester’s Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle of Airigami (“the fine art of folding air”) officially announced their first Airigami Balloon Adventure: Journey on the Genesee. The five-story, 50-foot sculpture made from more than 40,000 compostable balloons will be their seventh such local installation (formerly titled Balloon Manor) and their third in the Sibley Building atrium (250 E. Main St., 14604). Last year’s free Amazing Air-Filled Undersea Adventure drew more than 30,000 visitors to the historic downtown venue.

airigami balloon adventure

Journey on the Genesee will be constructed beginning Monday, January 25 by a crew of approximately 60 artists and volunteers from all over the country and from as far away as the Netherlands. It will officially open at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, January 29. Both the build and the finished installation will be on display to the public free of charge through Sunday, February 7 (9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. daily), when the installation will be deflated during its traditional Popping Party.

“We are incredibly excited to recreate nature with balloons – the river, waterfalls, animals, plants – inside, in the middle of winter,” says Airigami Artistic Director and Founder Larry Moss. “And we’re doing it all in an environmentally sound way, generating almost no waste, and composting the remains.”

Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle of Airigami

Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle of Airigami, photo courtesy Visit Rochester

In addition to its new name, the event introduces two presenting partners this year: the Seneca Park Zoo Society and the YMCA of Greater Rochester. Both non-profit organizations are keen to reach the community about their important education programs: My Genesee, the Zoo Society’s effort to explore the biodiversity of the Genesee River and promote its sustainability; and the Y’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum.

“Today’s zoos are at the forefront of conservation efforts, both in exotic places such as Borneo and Madagascar and in our own backyard. Our Zoo is home to species-survival efforts related to North American river otters, lake sturgeon, hellbenders, and more,” explains Seneca Park Zoo Society Executive Director Pamela Reed Sanchez. “Conservation of wildlife and wild places is at the core of our mission, and we want to encourage our community to help sustain the improving health of one of the area’s most important natural resources: the Genesee River.”

Seneca Park Zoo Society Executive Director Pamela Reed Sanchez

Seneca Park Zoo Society Executive Director Pamela Reed Sanchez, photo courtesy Visit Rochester


The My Genesee campaign includes One Cubic Foot, a Zoo Society initiative that assesses the biodiversity of the river while heightening awareness of its water quality and other environmental issues. Once declared one of most polluted rivers in the U.S., the Genesee is being brought back to life through the efforts of the Zoo Society and many other organizations.

Those combined efforts will be presented at a My Genesee Festival in the Sibley atrium on Saturday, Feb. 6, along with a One Cubic Foot interpretive station for visitors. The ZooMobile will also be on-site throughout the Adventure to provide engaging learning opportunities with animals. In addition, an Airigami Adventure Drawing Contest features a One Cubic Foot-inspired theme.

While it may be best known for its health and recreation programs, the YMCA is “so much more.” Its after-school programs reach nearly 5,000 children each day, many of them in Rochester’s underserved areas. After-school programs at several local YMCA branches will incorporate Zoo and Airigami STEM instruction as part of its Adventure partnership.

“A big part of our youth development mission now involves STEM initiatives, to aid in decision-making and problem-solving skills that are vital to success in school and life,” explains George Romell, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Rochester. “We are proud to be one of the early Y-USA adaptors of the STEM curriculum, and are excited to be part of this great initiative.”

airigami balloon adventure

Airigami Balloon Adventure, image courtesy Airigami


Airigami is offering its own community learning experiences this year as well: Airigami Balloon Adventure Crew Experience (youth-adult), Group Talk & Twist (kindergarten & up), and Experiment! Balloon Breakdown (ages 8 & up).

Adventure visitors will also be treated to free, live entertainment by artists including Rochester storyteller Jay Stetzer, magician John Wolfson, Flower City Vaudeville, and groups from Spectrum Creative Arts. Information about community classes and an evolving entertainment schedule are available at, where parking information is also located.

Journey on the Genesee is sponsored by the Seneca Park Zoo Society, the YMCA of Greater Rochester, Qualatex Balloons, Hilton Garden Inn Rochester Downtown, the City of Rochester, Visit Rochester, The Sibley Building and WinnCompanies, 13 WHAM, Kids Out and, City Newspaper, Immaginé, Spectrum Creative Arts, and more. Sponsorship opportunities are still available; please visit

airigami balloon adventure

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About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.