#b#Remembering the Balloon Man#/b#
For years one of the most visible entrepreneurs in Princeton was “the Balloon Man,” who wheeled his compressed air tank and boom box onto Nassau Street every weekend and deftly created intricate and whimsical balloon characters that he then traded for “donations” from wide-eyed children.
Arnie Brownell, 63, died at his home in Trenton a week or so ago, leaving his friends and admirers wishing they knew a little more about the circumstances in his life that led to the sidewalk venture.
In the October, 2001, issue of Esquire magazine, a fashion shoot on the Princeton campus referenced quirky townies, “like Arnie Brownell, the balloon twister of Nassau Street, a former junkie who got out of prison several years back with no prospects until he discovered the unexploited potential of long skinny balloons, and instead of just dachshunds he started folding them into fantastical flowers and spaceships.”
And in the May 15, 2002, U.S. 1, Richard K. Rein reported on how the Balloon Man had become controversial in downtown Princeton, at one point attracting surveillance by a plain-clothed police officer.
At a Borough Council meeting where enough hot air was expended to fill a weekend’s worth of balloons, Brownell turned to Rein and noted the irony of his existence: “I can’t believe this. I’m just an old drunk and here they are spending all this time on me.”
Kenneth Seibel Sr., 87, on October 30. He was a retired commercial print manager for Hibbert Company in Trenton and the father of Kenneth Seibel, president of the Seibel Group, a graphic design and print firm based at 741 Alexander Road.
John Dando Sias, 71, on October 29. He was a professor at MCCC for 17 years.
George Loh, 69, on October 29. He was a sales service manager at Bill Brown & Co., a printing firm on Cass Street in Trenton.
Denise Borino-Quinn, 46, on October 27. She played Ginny Sacrimoni, a character on the HBO cable series “The Sopranos,” and worked at the New Brunswick branch of regional law firm Hoagland Longo Moran Dunst & Doukas.