MILLVILLE, N.J. - Heaven isn't in Millville, N.J., but, arguably, it's along the way.
Joe and Jolene Carr of Wheeling celebrated their son Evan's third birthday by sending aloft a helium-filled party balloon around 3:30 p.m. Saturday. They penned a message to two deceased relatives and added their own names on one side and wrote their hometown on the other.
Sometime Sunday, and 302 miles away, the balloon came down to Earth on Sue and Chris Reeves' front steps in Millville.
Photos by Craig Matthews/The Daily Journal
The Carr family of Wheeling wrote a message on this birthday balloon and released it over the weekend. It found its way to Millville, N.J., a little more than 300 miles away, late Sunday. Police Officer Sue Reeves of the Millville Police Department found the balloon in her front yard.
"It looked like it was through World War III," Sue Reeves said Monday.
Reeves thought it was from a neighbor. She was going to throw the balloon away when she saw writing on it.
The message reads: "We send this balloon to heaven so the ones that couldn't share our special day, Evan, turning 3, could still be a part of it. We love and miss you very much, Grandpa Kuri and Grandma Peg. You will always hold special places in our hearts. Joe, Jolene, Evan."
On the other side, the family wrote, "This balloon comes from Wheeling, WV. USA."
"I thought that was pretty neat since Wheeling is, like, 350 miles away," Reeves said. "I threw it up on Facebook and a few people thought it was interesting."
One email to the newspaper, two reporters, several hours, and many phone calls and Internet searches later, Jolene Carr's phone rang with the news that the balloon had been found.
"I have always wondered just how far it would go," Carr, 27, said. "I never imagined it would be such a distance."
Carr said her son, Evan, turned 3 on Feb. 9. The family picked up the party balloon at the Dollar Zone in Elm Grove and released it Saturday on her father's birthday.
"Grandpa Kuri" is Jolene Carr's father, John Franklin Wheeler Kuri, who died in 2009. "Grandma Peg" is her husband's grandmother, Peggy Mozingo, who died in 2005. Both are from Wheeling.
"It was just a little message up to Heaven for grandparents," Carr said.
It carries on a tradition of message balloons her father started when she was young. Growing up, Carr said, her family regularly would release balloons. No particular occasion was called for, but sometimes they wrote their names to see if anyone would respond, she said.
This was the first time anyone contacted her about finding a balloon.
Philip Jarrett, the owner of the Dollar Zone store, recalled a woman who had come in for several years and the story behind her balloon purchases.
"It's a tradition they do every year," Jarrett said.