Build a balloon dream world | Herald Community Newspapers

Balloon maker Khadine McMillan, owner of Wantagh-based Milan Event Experience, has spiced up special occasions, such as birthdays or Sweet 16s, with the ultimate in helium-filled fun for the past three years.

Through his event decoration business, McMillan has wowed customers with his larger-than-life balloon displays. But earlier this month, McMillan was called upon to lend her balloon-sculpting skills to a whole different kind of project taking place more than 1,000 miles from her Long Island house. The charity Give Kids the World has hired McMillan, along with dozens of balloon crafters from around the world, to come to Orlando, Florida for its “Balloon Wonderland” event.

The goal is to create an immersive storybook landscape made entirely of balloons – also known as tall balloon constructs – on the charity’s 89-acre theme park. The 30,000 square foot facility, McMillan said, will bring big smiles to the faces of seriously ill children and their families during their week-long free stay.

Children will be able to explore several fantastic themed areas, including “Toyland”, “The Enchanted Forest” and “Under the Sea”, resembling the resort’s themed attractions. The approximately 300 performers will be divided into multiple teams, with each team assigned a distinct balloon building theme.

“My team is Dino Land,” McMillan said “We have about 50 balloon artists on our team, and we’re doing dinosaurs. We’re doing a volcano. dragonflies and butterflies. And I think one of the goals is to also include a flying pterodactyl in the mix.

McMillan said she expects the balloon volcano to be between 18 and 24 feet tall with dinosaurs towering over that height range. It’s an ambitious and time-consuming undertaking, McMillan said.

“We’re going to build all week,” McMillan said. “Depending on the scale of the build, you can take anywhere from three to four days to maybe a week.” McMillan and his fellow craftsmen had begun prep and framing work last weekend and will have it in place by Saturday for the official public unveiling.

Critically ill children will get a glimpse of the building this Friday before it opens to the public at the “Twisting for the Stars” event, according to McMillan.

“We’re going to be making balloons for kids specific to each fantasy area,” McMillan said. “For our area, they might have a little mini-dinosaur; a pirate sword for building Under the Sea; a flower for the enchanted forest. Kids will also place a star with their names on any part of the build, McMillan added.

Her favorite part of the event will be seeing the artisans’ collaborative efforts come to life. “All of these other artists are just as passionate,” she said. “And everyone is there for one purpose: to do this work for these children. I think that’s a really big part of that too.

“After more than two years of quarantining and limiting their activities, one could only imagine how much this would mean for these children and their families,” McMillan added. “Visiting a production room as vibrant and spectacular as this and just celebrating, smiling and having fun is an invaluable experience.”

And for those who are environmentally conscious, McMillan said that once the constructs are ready to go down, the majority of the balloons are made from latex and biodegradable, and each will be popped and properly disposed of.

“What an incredible event this is,” Pam Landwirth, CEO of Give Kids the World, said in a statement. “Khadine will be part of [a team] create many iconic pieces from our Give Kids the World village in this gigantic balloon display. We are very grateful for his support, showing how the joy of balloons can also make a difference in the lives of so many people.

“Giving back doesn’t end with ‘Balloon Wonderland’,” said McMillan, who said she will continue to undertake balloon-building projects with other organizations such as Hope for Youth later this year in “continuing to spread joy through the love of balloons.”