Heights hot air balloon artist to help produce exhibit in Orlando, Florida | Community

Holding a pair of balloons, one noticeably larger than the other, Noelia Rivera asked which of the two had been inflated correctly.

The answer, perhaps surprisingly, was the smaller green balloon, which remained a translucent green sphere. The second balloon, clearly distended and overfilled, would tend to burst under the effect of heat, pressure and the elements, she explained.

In just over a week, Rivera will briefly leave NJP Balloons Macrame and More to fulfill a request from Qualatex to travel to Orlando, Florida, where she will help produce the “Toyland” exhibit with Give Kids the World. In total, the event is expected to require up to 30,000 balloons, some of which will be 24 feet tall.

While there, Rivera will also take the Qualatex Certified Balloon Artist practical exam.

To prepare, she took three online assessments and continued to hone her craft.

“There’s so much people don’t know about balloons,” Rivera said of demonstrating how to properly tie two balloons together so they can be reused. “There is a science to working with them.”

From oxidation to ball material, Rivera is an expert in all things ball with 10 years of experience, including eight professionals.

“Juan was leaving the military and I said ‘we need a way to make money,'” she said.

Passionate about event planning, Rivera started NJP Balloons Macrame and More in 2014 to help support the family when her husband, Juan Rivera, retired from the US military. The company is currently located at 740 S. Amy Lane, Synergy Suite 101 in Harker Heights.

Becoming a CBA is the next big step in her career – earning artist certification will guarantee Rivera priority listing in professional rosters, secure discounts, and increase her chances of being invited to national and international events.

Like both balloons, Rivera is part of a pair — she works in tandem with her husband, Juan, to create elaborate balloon presentations and “make dreams come true,” Juan Rivera said.

“Sometimes when you’re preparing for an event and you walk in with someone they say ‘oh my god, that’s so beautiful,'” Juan Rivera said, uncovering his mouth to reveal a smile. “…That’s why I love doing it.”

Each design begins with a discussion of the client’s creative vision, where Noelia tries to pin down what the client wants.

“They are paying us to make their vision come true,” said Juan Rivera.

What follows is a bit of thinking, then preparation. Lots and lots of preparation.

Holding a photo of a 2D Disney-style pink, red and blue castle made out of balloons, the couple explained that just blowing up balloons and putting together the project took eight hours.

“It’s a lot of work, but at the end of the day, I could see the girl dancing with her father; she just looked so happy,” Juan Rivera laughed. “I slept like a baby.”

“Back office business” is Juan Rivera’s primary responsibility, while Noelia Rivera said she assists clients in a more front-facing position.

“I really, really like working with people,” she said.

According to the Riveras, business has been good, with organic growth through word of mouth. However, like many other industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has sometimes made it difficult to source their favorite material: latex balloons.

“When the pandemic hit, all the latex was used to make gloves,” Juan Rivera said. “Bulk orders have taken over the industry,” said Noelia Rivera.

The Give Kids the World event lasts from July 11-15, although Rivera will be present from July 10-16.

Give Kids the World is a non-profit organization that provides vacations for terminally ill children and their families.

“The most important thing is to take a vision and make it happen,” said Noelia Rivera. “People can do it themselves, but they pay because they trust us to make their vision a reality.”