Perspectives: Sorry to Burst Your Pickle

An apology to the poor, innocent Pickle Balloon.

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Dear Pickle Balloon,


This one’s on us.

It’s been 2020 for, what, eight years now? You’d think we would have the hang of it. We should know the big rule: Don’t plan, and, if you do, don’t announce what you’re planning ahead of time.

This year, anything that has been announced as occurring at a specific time — re-openings, Steelers games, election returns, sleep — hasn’t happened as intended. In fact, the more we say we’re sure a certain thing will happen at a certain time, the more fate, circumstance and the general bad vibes permeating the air have disrupted it.

In other words, the penalty for making plans in 2020 isn’t just that those plans won’t happen — it’s that they’ll metaphorically catch on fire en route to not happening.

So it was for you, you poor, brined inflatable.

There was nothing wrong with the idea. We had a big Pickle Balloon laying around, and we sure didn’t have a Picklesburgh this year; the massive ex-cucumber had been sitting around for quite some time. The pickle ornament tradition, while not a ubiquitous local custom, is certainly a thing. So why not turn the big Pickle Balloon into a big pickle ornament balloon, we thought?

People come to town, take a selfie with the big pickle, hopefully drop a few bucks on gifts from independent artisans at the Holiday Market. It makes sense. Heck, a few years ago, practically the entire state made tracks for the Golden Triangle because someone floated a big rubber duck into town. We like big inflated things.

Then came the key mistake: We not only decided to do this, we told everybody about it. There were press releases. There were news stories. And thus, we violated that guiding rule of 2020: Don’t announce what you’re planning ahead of time, or it will not happen.

So we dragged you out of your chartreuse slumber. We inflated you. And, almost instantly, we broke you.

As soon as we restored a giant vegetable’s worth of air to your dilly innards, an unfortunate hoisting accident ripped apart your flesh — and our dreams of a pickled symbol of civic pride. We were left with nothing but a giant, crumpled tarp vaguely reminiscent of a pickle, your golden crown sitting forlornly to one side.

Pickle Balloon, you were just too good for 2020.

Also, we should probably have figured out how to flop you against the side of a building without ripping you open. That one is also on us.

We will endure, of course; we will still come down and buy some things at the market. We’ll look at the Santas from around the world; we can selfie with them, probably. Our finest artisans — our finest artisans who work at the intersection of oversized foodstuffs and civic planning, anyway — will work to repair the damage done to you.

We have no doubt that you will soar again, your unseeing, beryl eyes watching over us like the salty guardian you are.

It will not be in 2020, however.

We’ve learned our lesson.



P.S. Tell the rubber duck to stay safe.

Categories: Collier’s Weekly