Event unites balloon professionals worldwide for unparalleled education and inspiration

Building on the success of the World Balloon Convention (WBC) 2016, nearly 900 delegates attended the highly anticipated WBC 2018, held March 14-17, in San Diego, CA, USA. Hosted by Pioneer® Balloon Company, the event showcased balloon artists and balloon creations from all over the world, with delegates representing 52 countries. 

“We were overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response of the delegates,” said Ted A. Vlamis, president of Pioneer Balloon Company. “There is no other industry where the people have the same degree of passion for what they do.”

In addition to the top-notch educational curriculum—which featured 55 classes taught by 33 of the industry’s most respected professionals—other activities included nine competitions with 157 entries, a Vendor Showcase, two Deco-Twisting Jams, and a CBA® Exam that resulted in in 25 proud new Certified Balloon Artists. Finally, WBC 2018 was also the host to 100 children from the Greater San Diego Boys and Girls Club for an hour of balloon entertainment and a personalized tour through the sculpture gallery.  

Delegates were greeted at the San Diego Sheraton Hotel and Marina by ocean-themed balloon decor by Lily Tan, of Myairitude, of Singapore.  The sea and sunshine-inspired elements carried over to other celebrations throughout the week. The high-energy opening night Welcome Festivities, featured fun-in-the-sun decor by Stuart Davies, CBA, of Beyond Balloons, United Kingdom.  The WBC traditional theme party, dubbed a “Beach Party” for 2018, featured seaside decor by designer Federico Onida, CBA, of Balloon Express Shop, Italy. At the final night awards banquet -- the Red Carpet Grand Gala -- guests were dazzled yet again with elegant decor by designer Olga Baranova, CBA, of Balloon Studio, Russian Federation. New this year was the Grand Gala After Party, which featured sophisticated and modern club decor designed by Chris Adamo, CBA, of Balloons Online, Australia.  Centerpieces for the parties were designed by Tina Giunta, CBA, of Shivoo Balloons, Australia, and Anne McGovern, CBA, of Elegant Balloons, USA. 

The balloon competitions featured fantastic sculptures in all nine categories:  Large Sculpture, Medium Sculpture, Picture Frame, Balloon Fashion and Costume, Centerpiece, Deliverable Sculpture and Bouquet, Balloon Column, Balloon Hat, and Balloon Figure. Three Master awards were given based upon specific criteria and exceptional scoring.  These included the new Twisting Wizard Award, the Emerging Artist Award, and the Master Designer Award. The award for Twisting Wizard was presented to Daigo Sugata, of Balloon Artist Daigo, Japan, while the Emerging Artist Award went to Kanako Takahashi, of Merryballoon, Japan. The coveted Master Designer Award was given to Masako Nomura, CBA, FuwaFuwa Co. Ltd., also of Japan. 

The 2018 Golden Light Award was presented to LaDonna Belcher, CBA, of Time to Party Promotions, Ohio, USA.  The Golden Light Award was created in honor of Linda Bruce, CBA, one of the most beloved and familiar faces in the balloon industry. Linda, who lost her battle with pancreatic cancer on June 5, 2009, is remembered not only for her incredible talent but also for the light she radiated through her charismatic personality, contagious optimism, and infectious smile. The recipient of the Golden Light Award possesses the same unwavering passion for the balloon industry and the people in it. This recipient is a consummate professional and an advocate for education, who understands the value of creating connections and friendships with peers and the emotional impact that balloons have on people. Our 2018 recipient, Ms. Belcher, started in the balloon industry in the early 1990s.  Very rapidly, she became a Certified Balloon Artist and an award-winner at IBAC, the International Balloon Artist Convention and predecessor to WBC. She has taught at national and international balloon events and conventions and has received countless awards from professional associations.  She is looked to by many just starting out in the business for mentoring, guidance, and a compassionate shoulder upon which to lean.   

Overall, WBC 2018 lived up to its reputation as the leading worldwide convention for business-minded balloon professionals. 

“We believe that the delegates’ investment in this educational experience will be returned many times over,” said Vlamis. 

Founded in 1917, Pioneer Balloon Company is the world’s premier manufacturer of latex balloons, with a diversified range of products that includes Microfoil® balloons and Bubble Balloons. Additionally, Pioneer offers innovative product solutions to customers in the advertising, entertaining, decorating, and social expressions markets. Headquartered in Wichita, KS, USA, Pioneer has facilities in the United States, Canada, England, Australia, Mexico, and Brazil.