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Mayor Defends Balloons for Mickey Mouse’s Birthday

August 10, 1988

NEW YORK (AP) _ A marine specialist may be right when he says Mickey Mouse birthday balloons can hurt sea creatures, but Mayor Edward I. Koch said Wednesday he still will not rain on Mickey’s 60th anniversary celebration.

City Hall, Koch said, was the wrong place for the scientist to lodge his grievance, suggesting he take it instead to the federal government.

The mayor planned to attend a party at the South Street Seaport where the balloons were to be released by the Disney organization to mark the 1928 debut of animated Mickey Mouse cartoons.

Robert Schoelkopf, director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center at Brigantine, N.J., said Tuesday that he sent a telegram alerting Koch to the danger balloons represent to marine mammals.

Schoelkopf said deflated balloons that wind up in the ocean can kill creatures that mistake them for food and eat them.

Schoelkopf’s complaints, Koch said, ″apparently have not had much influence on the environmentalists because it’s never been raised before, at least with me.″

″I don’t even like the tone of his comments,″ the mayor added.

″The fact that someone objects to something that someone else is doing doesn’t mean that they’re automatically right,″ Koch said. ″They may very well be, but shouldn’t he be making his complaints to the federal government that would have control over the air?″

″Instead of raining on the Disney production or asking me to rain on them, why doesn’t he make his case to the Congress?″

Disney organization spokesman Dan Scheffey, promoting a number of events for the Mickey Mouse anniversary, said he had been assured by the supplier of the balloons that they were ″perfectly safe for the environment.″

He said he had no information that the balloons could harm marine life.

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