Patty Jurgielewicz lifted the spirits of passers by on the corner of Westport Road and Bibbins Road with her ballon art messages last year during the the COVID-19 pandemic shut down.
Today, as taxpayers go to the polls at Samuel Staples Elementary School to vote on the town and school budgets and the Easton Resolution one Racism as a Public Health Crisis, the “balloon lady” is back with her welcoming art.
She has created the welcome message for the Easton 175th Committee’s table where voters can meet friendly neighbors and learn about many Easton organizations.
“No matter what, this table wins in a landslide!” Selectman Bob Lessler said.
As of 12:30, 650 people had voted. The polls are open today, May 4, until 8 p.m. Read more about the referendum here.
Easton has 5,575 voters, according to Jim Bromer, assistant to the registrars. The breakdown is as follows:
In a trying year, Easton had many bright spots, proving that our community had grit and grace in the face of the pandemic. The editors struggled to identify the top 10 events of 2020 and concluded there were many more than time and space allowed. Nevertheless, we will roll out several at a time, beginning in this issue, in the hope that readers will send in their own 2020 highlights.
What a year it turned out to be, unlike any other in our lifetime, unlike any time in recent history since the Spanish flu in 1918. Early in the year, everything had seemed rosy and bright, aside from growing news reports about a deadly novel coronavirus (Covid-19) first reported in China and spreading in Europe and here in the U.S.
People started greeting each other with elbow bumps rather than handshakes but were otherwise unaware of how rapidly and drastically everything would be turned upside down. After a promising start and a calendar full of meaningful events, life as we knew it came to a grinding halt in mid-March. Connecticut schools closed. Distance learning replaced classroom instruction. Town and school events were canceled. Just about everything stopped or changed.
Acting under state-sanctioned executive orders, Gov. Ned Lamont ordered all but essential workers to stay at home as businesses, stores and public places closed. Homes became workplaces, school houses and shelters. First Selectman Dr. David Bindelglass updated residents about local developments through his weekly messages. He made the pronouncement on March 23 that Easton had its first laboratory-confirmed case. Tragically, several longtime, older residents died from Covid-19 infections.
Throughout the crisis, Eastonites helped each other and kept the faith that things would get better again. The so-called “Balloon Lady,” Patty Jurielewicz, kept people’s spirits high during the shutdown with regular balloon art displays on Westport Road.
At the close of the year, the coronavirus has killed more than 330,000 Americans, and the number keeps growing.
But the arrival of vaccines brings renewed hope. Dr. Bindelglass, an orthopedic surgeon, and his wife, Gloria, a nurse, have received their vaccinations. and Easton’s first responders will be receiving theirs over the next week or so. The vaccines will be available to all over the course of the next few months.
The virus remains a threat, and social distancing, mask-wearing and hand washing requirements will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. But, as 2020 draws to a close, 2021 brings the promise of much better times ahead and life restored to a new normal.
‘Thank You Veterans’ from the Balloon Lady
Patty Jurielewicz returned with more of her locally renowned balloon art to celebrate Veterans Day. Today’s display thanked veterans for their service, once again bringing smiles to the faces of drivers and passengers on Route 136 at Bibbins Road.
The “Balloon Lady’s” cheerful and airy daily contributions lifted people’s spirits during the early months of the pandemic when things shut down and people needed it most. Jurielewicz and her family also created displays for special occasions like the Helen Keller Middle School graduation and the swearing-in of Rich Doyle as Easton’s new police chief.
“I would like to thank our veterans for serving our country,” Doyle said. “I also want to recognize three veterans now serving the Easton community: Sergeant Thomas Ceccarelli, USCG; Detective Kent Lyman, USMC; and Officer Thomas Steinke, USMC.”
Members of the Easton police, fire and emergency medical departments caravanned past the corner of Route 136 and Bibbins Road in June to celebrate the Jurielewicz family, all of whom participated in mounting the festive, daily balloon displays. You can read about the colorful displays here.
Photo at top: Veterans Day Balloon Thank You Message from Patty Jurielewicz, AKA “The Balloon Lady.” — Photo Courtesy of Police Chief Rich Doyle
‘I love my town!’ A Thank You to Patty Jurgielewicz
Thank you Patty ! You brightened so many lives with your balloon sculptures. I wanted to be photographed with the rainbow. Living here in Easton reminds me “there is no place like home.”
— Carolyn Harrington,
‘Balloon Lady’ Treats Easton to Daily Display
One regular Easton corner is proving to be surprisingly popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The corner of Westport Road and Bibbins Road is drawing a lot of attention due to the daily professional balloon sculpture creations displayed there by Patty Jurgielewicz, an Eastonite for 16 years.
Jurgielewicz operates Balloon Whimzy as a side business from her regular career as a vice president for The Sedona Group, a Norwalk-based asset management firm. She began by displaying a small sculpture in late March as a cheerful gesture in a less prominent location.
As the popularity grew, so did the sculptures and the display’s location migrated to its current, more visible spot on Route 136 on March 28. With the support of her husband, Dave, and their children, Andrew, 22, and and Dana, 18, Jurgielewicz has created a new display every night since, rain or shine.
Many make a point to walk or drive by her display daily, and it is frequently showcased on social media by the Easton Police Department and Easton EMS.
The public is grateful for the fun distraction that “The Balloon Lady,” as some now call her, provides. Jurgielewicz has received notes, gifts and mementos left at her sculptures.
Jurgielewicz hopes to continue treating all passers-by to her displays, but sourcing materials is becoming more of a challenge. “Warehouses have minimal people working because it is considered a non-essential business and all of the balloon artists are overwhelmed with work because of all the drive-by parades and the fact that people want to still celebrate birthdays and milestones,” she explains.
Fans delight to see what the new theme of the day will be, with past works including Spiderman, Earth Day, The Cat in the Hat, popcorn, and a large heart to honor helpers during the pandemic.
“My favorite was probably the ice cream cone,” she said. “I had been wanting to try that for some time and I finally did. I like the fact that it was so big and so realistic. And who doesn’t love ice cream?!”