Legacy of Balloon Ritchie

Illustration by Jess Edwards

Balloon Ritchie is a recognizable statement on campus. He can be seen at a lot of events around campus. Sometimes he pops up over the summer during Colleges and Careers weekend, but orientation is one of the best times to see him.

Most people don’t know how much impact Balloon Ritchie has had on RIT’s branding, so here are some fun facts about our favorite balloon.

Build Your Own Balloon Ritchie

Balloon Ritchie is made up by using a collection of balloons and a sharpie. When RIT has big events on campus, they go all out when it comes to decorating and this includes using as many balloons as they can buy.

RIT typically uses around 4,000 biodegradable balloons each year to decorate campus according to RIT's short 30-second clip showing the creation of balloon Ritchie. This means that each Balloon Ritchie is also safe for the environment!

When making a Balloon Ritchie specifically, you only need around nine​ balloons to create him. Most people might not know, but you don’t need helium to create him! To make your very own Balloon Ritchie, you only need air and some extra hands to tie them all together.

Birth of Balloon Ritchie

Who was the mastermind behind this beautiful atrocity like Balloon Ritchie? He actually came from the mind of a middle-aged man that most people call Bob the Balloon Guy. He's just a guy who likes balloons!

RIT hires a local company, Celebration Unlimited, to handle all the balloon decorations on campus. They have been making RIT’s balloon art for over 13 years.

Bob the Balloon Guy, himself, owns the company.

Who could have guessed that a simple creation made by some random balloon guy could make such an impact on a community?

From Balloon to University Icon

Even though Balloon Ritchie seems like a minor thing, he has left a big impact on the RIT community and beyond.

Balloon Ritchie is a staple to most RIT events that are on campus. Since orientation brings in a lot of new students, they are introduced to this little guy early on. From one student to another, look forward to it. As soon as you step foot on campus during orientation, you can see Balloon Ritchie staring at you with his soulless, black eyes from above. Now imagine that but with rows of the guy. It's not something you expect to see every day!

Balloon Ritchie can be seen on RIT’s social media, which makes people outside of the RIT community aware of the creation. Some might even say he's become more popular than Ritchie himself. In a way, some people would argue Balloon Ritchie is RIT's true mascot.

People have even created merchandise based on the Balloon Ritchie. From stickers to t-shirts, you can find him on popular sites like RedBubble and Etsy.

Balloon Ritchie has become more than just a balloon. He is one of the biggest figures connecting the RIT community. He is such a branding symbol that people are so attached to him that they are steal him from events, and display him in their room windows. For incoming freshmen, keep your eyes peeled and see how many you can spot!