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Red balloons, red balloons everywhere

Warner Bros. Pictures
The ominous red balloon and Pennywise from 2017's adaptation of Stephen King's "It".
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YUKON, Okla. --“Ooh, did she let him go or did the four winds blow him away? Ooh, does she even know she’s the girl with the red balloon?”

Lyrics from the duo, The Civil Wars, reminds me of a recurring idea throughout books, movies and even vivid dreams.

It’s a red balloon.

With the success of Stephen King’s IT in theaters, I can’t help but wonder what this imagery means and why it terrifies many of us. As the idea of a balloon, specifically a red one, typically spawn these ideas of a childhood. Yet, placed into the wrong hands, it can mean something much more sinister.

Since I was a child, I was always more scared of the things made to be a sense of wonder and enjoyment. Those monsters I’d see in the horror flicks and slasher films never bothered me in the slightest.

All you need to do is take off running. Also, for the love of God, if you trip, get back up and repeat the process.

Back to the point.

Events that most parents think would be an interesting idea to take their children to always made me question why we do the things we do in the first place. For example, circuses and hiking through the woods at night always made my nerves stand on end.

These are the things that kids are supposed to enjoy. Why?

Is it something out of tradition that dictates that, as an adult, you remember having fun doing it so my kid should too? If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: Just because it’s a tradition, doesn’t mean it should always be kept.

Throughout modern society, this red balloon keeps floating into our minds. In fact, it’s been hanging over our heads as of the last few months. One might think that it has to deal with the resurgence of Stephen King.

I think there’s something more primal to this idea.

In King’s IT, 7 kids make up the Losers Club in the town of Derry, Maine. Based in the 1950’s, each member of the group is another rejected outcast from the norm of the town. As they band together, the threats of the adult world fail in comparison to what lies beneath in the sewers.

“Come down and play with me,” IT says. “You can have this balloon. It floats and you’ll float too.”

Red frizzed hair, porcelain-colored skin and a smile with shark’s teeth gleaming in the pale moonlight. Pennywise the Dancing Clown waits in the darkness of the sewer tunnels.

The story of IT has remained relevant even today. While the children battle the terrors of the demon clown, it’s the horrors of the people in the town that lasts with you. What this novel shows is that monsters don’t need to be the things that lurk in the shadows.

Often times, the most terrifying things live among us.

As the story continues, images of red balloons continue to plague the town.

Even after the story of IT has finished, the image remains. It’s such a lasting impression that you could almost become skeptical whenever you see a child’s birthday with red balloons.

So what is the meaning of it?

According to, the red balloon symbolizes one thing: a looming terror. It acts as a harbinger of horror in something that you fear or have anxiety about. This is why it’s easy for people to associate a weightless object with something yet to be dealt with.

The red balloon means more than an omen; it’s a passing of innocence on the world.

So while red balloons continue to filter into the mainstream world of entertainment, a red balloon can take you back to a primal feeling of fear.

It’s the fear of the unknown. It’s the fear of the loss of innocence.

Perhaps, it’s fear itself. 

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About the Author

Brandon King

Brandon King is a journalism student at OCCC, working towards becoming a professional writer....

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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