Journey on the Genesee will fill Sibley atrium Jan. 29-Feb. 7
Seneca Park Zoo Society & YMCA bring educational awareness
Rochester, NY – Rochester’s Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle of AirigamiTM (“the fine art of folding air”) officially announced their first Airigami Balloon Adventure: Journey on the Genesee this morning. The five-story, 50-foot sculpture made from more than 40,000 compostable balloons will be their seventh such local installation (formerly titled Balloon Manor) and their third in the Sibley Building atrium (250 E. Main St., 14604). Last year’s free Amazing Air-Filled Undersea Adventure drew more than 30,000 visitors to the historic downtown venue.
“Airigami’s Balloon Adventure will be another amazing experience for families and children of all ages,” says Joseph Eddy, VP of WinnDevelopment. “Events like this help make Downtown a destination and put the talents and creativity of our community on display for thousands. It’s that essence that we want to recapture as WinnCompanies works to redevelop The Sibley Building.”
Journey on the Genesee will be constructed beginning Monday, January 25 by a crew of approximately 60 artists and volunteers from all over the country and from as far away as the Netherlands. It will officially open at 10 a.m. on Friday, January 29. Both the build and the finished installation will be on display to the public free of charge through Sunday, February 7 (9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. daily), when the installation will be deflated during its traditional Popping Party (tickets available at airigamiadventure.com/tickets).
“We are incredibly excited to recreate nature with balloons – the river, waterfalls, animals, plants – inside, in the middle of winter,” says Airigami Artistic Director and Founder Larry Moss. “And we’re doing it all in an environmentally sound way, generating almost no waste, and composting the remains.”
In addition to its new name, the event introduces two presenting partners this year: the Seneca Park Zoo Society and the YMCA of Greater Rochester. Both non-profit organizations are keen to reach the community about their important education programs: My Genesee, the Zoo Society’s effort to explore the biodiversity of the Genesee River and promote its sustainability; and the Y’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum.
“Today’s zoos are at the forefront of conservation efforts, both in exotic places such as Borneo and Madagascar and in our own backyard. Our Zoo is home to species-survival efforts related to North American river otters, lake sturgeon, hellbenders, and more,” explains Seneca Park Zoo Society Executive Director Pamela Reed Sanchez. “Conservation of wildlife and wild places is at the core of our mission, and we want to encourage our community to help sustain the improving health of one of the area’s most important natural resources: the Genesee River.”
The My Genesee campaign includes One Cubic Foot, a Zoo Society initiative that assesses the biodiversity of the river while heightening awareness of its water quality and other environmental issues (senecaparkzoo.org/page/one-cubic-foot). Once declared one of most polluted rivers in the U.S., the Genesee is being brought back to life through the efforts of the Zoo Society and many other organizations.
Those combined efforts will be presented at a My Genesee Festival in the Sibley atrium on Saturday, Feb. 6, along with a One Cubic Foot interpretive station for visitors. The ZooMobile will also be on-site throughout the Adventure to provide engaging learning opportunities with animals. In addition, an Airigami Adventure Drawing Contest features a One Cubic Foot-inspired theme (enter at airigamiadventure.com/drawing-contest).
While it may be best known for its health and recreation programs, the YMCA is “so much more.” Its after-school programs reach nearly 5,000 children each day, many of them in Rochester’s underserved areas. After-school programs at several local YMCA branches will incorporate Zoo and Airigami STEM instruction as part of its Adventure partnership.
“A big part of our youth development mission now involves STEM initiatives, to aid in decision-making and problem-solving skills that are vital to success in school and life,” explains George Romell, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Rochester. “We are proud to be one of the early Y-USA adaptors of the STEM curriculum, and are excited to be part of this great initiative.”
Airigami is offering its own community learning experiences this year as well: Airigami Balloon Adventure Crew Experience (youth-adult), Group Talk & Twist (kindergarten & up), and Experiment! Balloon Breakdown (ages 8 & up).
Adventure visitors will also be treated to free, live entertainment by artists including Rochester storyteller Jay Stetzer, magician John Wolfson, Flower City Vaudeville, and groups from Spectrum Creative Arts. Information about community classes and an evolving entertainment schedule are available at airigamiadventure.com, where parking information is also located.
Journey on the Genesee is sponsored by the Seneca Park Zoo Society, the YMCA of Greater Rochester, Qualatex Balloons, Hilton Garden Inn Rochester Downtown, the City of Rochester, Visit Rochester, The Sibley Building and WinnCompanies, 13 WHAM, Kids Out and About.com, City Newspaper, Immaginé, Spectrum Creative Arts, and more. Sponsorship opportunities are still available; please visit airigamiadventure.com/sponsors.
More about Airigami: Rochester artists and Airigami partners Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle are world renowned for their incredible full-blown installations, whether it’s a giant Acrocanthosaurus for the Virginia Museum of Natural History, the world’s first piloted balloon sculpture (Fantastic Flying Octopus), or one of their many Balloon Manors. Airigami has earned two Guinness World’s Records, along with AP, CNN Headline, PBS and other international and national news coverage. They’ve also made multiple appearances on The Martha Stewart Show, Good Morning America, the Today show, and at the White House.