Seniors release balloons

Ann Heider, 81, held her balloons in her right hand and rested her left hand on her husband's wheelchair.

It was awfully hot outside, she noted, and told Julius the little blonde boy running about looked familiar. Then, with about 50 others, the Heiders let their helium-filled balloons go.

"It was beautiful," she said. "All the colors and the way they spread out - it was just a beautiful sight to see."

Tied to the balloons were cards with the names of the 34 residents of the Eagle Valley Care Centre on Long Street. The balloons travel with the wind and land in sometimes distant, like Owyhee, or close, like Dayton, locations. Up to six of the cards are returned each year, and some care center residents become long-term pen pals with whomever finds the balloon.

"So many colors against the blue sky. Beautiful," Veryl Machado said.

Paige Redington, center admissions director, said Labor Day doesn't offer many activities for the elderly, but the residents seem to enjoy the balloon release.

While on a hunting trip last year, a Milwaukee, Ore., man hiked into the bottom of a remote canyon outside of Owyhee where he found the postcards. Returned to the center, they, and a picture of the man with a deer, are posted on a bulletin board.

On a day when workers are given a day to rest from their labors, the 34 center residents are joined by some members of their families for a light barbecue, punch and a 93rd birthday party for Juanita Partridge. The memories of these elderly Carson City residents are failing, but some recalled bits of their younger years.

Julius Heider was an Army soldier who spent several years with his family in Austria, Ann said. He was a good provider for her and their three children.

Veryl Machado had a law degree, but gave it up to become an artist. Her husband, Reg, 90, is also a artist.

"If you don't paint when you're an artist, you get cranky and cross," he said. "I still paint. I can whip out a painting like nobody's business if I want to."


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