PLYMOUTH, Mass. (CAP) - Local police have called off the search for a child's balloon that went missing during the town's annual 4th of July parade this past week, ending an extensive search that lasted close to 3 days. The balloon is described as yellow latex with a three-foot strip of royal blue ribbon that curls at the bottom.
"Unfortunately, we have had to reclassify this operation from search and rescue to search and recovery," said Plymouth police spokesperson Julia Roth. "The Plymouth police department and Plymouth County sheriff's office will continue to work this as an active case, but we regret it can no longer retain the priority it has had for the past two days."
According to witnesses, the balloon was last seen in the hands of a 4-year-old girl identified only as Rose, and although the parade route was packed with residents who braved the hot summertime temperatures, no one actually saw the balloon leave the girl's hands or could identify in what direction it might have gone during the subsequent search.
"I just - I just turned my back for a second to tell my son to stop complaining about the heat, that the parade was hot for everybody, not just him, and when I looked back, it was gone," said the girl's mother, Anne. "I asked her what happened to her balloon, and it was like she didn't even know it was gone until I said something."
Those standing near Anne and her family said the child immediately became hysterical and inconsolable and not even free candy being tossed to the crowd from various parade floats could keep her from crying out for her balloon. One parade-goer who asked not to be identified told CAP News this kind of tragedy was entirely avoidable.
"None of this would have happened if that mother had tied that balloon to that child's wrist," said the woman. "Young parents these days just don't think things through - and this is a mistake she'll have to live with for the rest of her life."
The initial search focused on a small grove of nearby trees, and while volunteers did locate the deflated remains of a Scooby-Doo mylar balloon that went missing during this year's Memorial Day parade, there was no sign of the yellow balloon. By the time the parade concluded 45 minutes later, investigators had widened the search area to include half a dozen adjacent streets and the nearby Pilgrim Memorial State Park.
"The way the breeze is blowing and the proximity to both Route 3 as well as Plymouth harbor add a level of complexity to this search we may not be able to overcome," Plymouth Police Chief Michael Botieri said during a late afternoon press conference on Sunday. The search was halted for the evening when the town's fireworks display began around 9:30pm.
Botieri would not comment on reports that perhaps the balloon was taken out of the girl's hands and didn't just float away, but did say the family is cooperating with police efforts. A CAP News source inside the department confirmed that police were looking at two 13-year-old persons of interest who were spotted walking up and down parts of the parade route calling the event "lame" and "for losers."
Anyone with information about the missing balloon or about people who appear to have been acting suspiciously during the parade are asked to call Plymouth police. All details will be kept confidential until confirmed by additional sources.
- CAP News Staff