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Ann Arbor balloon artist spreads joy during pandemic

Local balloon artist Carolynn Hayman poses with one of her creations.
Local balloon artist Carolynn Hayman poses with one of her creations. (Carolynn Hayman)

ANN ARBOR – Ann Arborite Carolynn Hayman is best-known for creating the famous Conrad the Unicorn balloon costume, which earned her an appearance on “America’s Got Talent” in 2017.

Since then, her business POP! Designs & Creations has taken off and she has become a fixture in the balloon world, making numerous appearances in her mind-blowing costumes and winning international competitions along the way.

Cinco de Mayo-inspired designs. (Pop! Designs and Creations)

Read: Ann Arbor balloon artist places first at international balloon convention

At the beginning of the pandemic, business slowed down due to countless canceled events. With life at a standstill, Hayman joined forces with 200 balloon artists around the globe in late March 2020 to bring pops of color -- and joy -- to their communities.

Her contribution was a rainbow balloon column with smiley faces on it, and she was touched to see how many people came to enjoy it while on daily walks.

Carolynn Hayman sits on her front porch with her balloon art following international livestream event. (Jen Geer Photography)

Fast forward a year, and the demand for balloon art skyrocketed with the rise in intricate lawn displays and socially distanced drive-by parties.

“There were days when I was being inundated with emails,” said Hayman. “I tried to make it my mission to not say ‘no.’”

Another trend that surprised her was more and more clients were local.

“I felt like for the longest time I was the Ann Arbor balloon artist that didn’t do much in Ann Arbor,” she said with a laugh.

Balloon creations by Carolynn Hayman of Pop! Designs and Creations. (Pop! Designs and Creations)

Watch Carolynn appear on Live in the D

She also said that more and more people began to recognize her.

“I had people stopping me all the time saying, ‘We saw this in that person’s yard,” she said. “Balloons are kind of a cool way to tell people that there’s still something happy happening around here.”

Looking ahead, Hayman said she will be taking part in the very first Big Balloon Build in the U.S. The event, which traditionally takes place in Wales, is coming to Indiana in April 2022.

A giraffe birthday display for clients in Ann Arbor. (Pop! Designs and Creations)

Fifty-five balloon artists from around the world will create a stunning display inspired by the iconic Hasbro board game Candy Land using 125,000 balloons. The massive build will then be donated to local charities.

To keep up with Hayman’s latest creations, check out her Instagram and Facebook pages.

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About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.