Iconic board game comes to life with balloons

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SOUTH BEND, Ind.— Imagine walking into a candy land…filled with balloons!

One local balloon professional in South Bend just returned back home from the first ever Candy Land themed USA balloon build!

For the past 11 years, Fun By The Yard Owner Jenn Nyikos has turned front yards, into life-sized greeting cards! But this time around, it was a little bit more than that.

Hasbro, who is one of the largest toy companies in the world, granted permission to use its iconic trademark game “Candy Land” as the whole inspiration behind the 2022 giant balloon build! This is the first time in history that this has ever been attempted.

125,000 balloons were blown up, designed and used to recreate the whole entire game in Vincennes, Indiana for the community and people from all over the area to walk through, and experience the game like never before, in person!

Out of hundreds of balloon professionals from around the world who applied to be part of the big balloon build, Nyikos was one of the 65 artists picked for the project!

“There’s a list of requirements you have to make to even apply, and then they take those applicants and chose the best fit for whatever event they’re having. So they need different skills depending on what they’re making,” Fun By The Yard Owner Jenn Nyikos said. “It was awesome and actually this is my second time! I’ve been over to Wales for one a couple years ago and then for the first stop in the United States I was chosen again and so Just super excited!”

Every time the event is held, the home host choses who will sponsor it and who will be the main beneficiary. For this balloon build, global candy company Hasbro, Hershey, the Vincennes chamber and its local rotary stepped in as sponsors. The United Way was the beneficiary, with money being raised and gifted to a number of different ones across the nation, including the United Way of Knox County! In total, United Way raised over $130,000 for its charities from the big balloon build.

“They were able to take over the build, have a fashion show where they brought in the mayor and all of the big wigs of the city and they dressed them in balloon dresses and had a fashion show all with balloons, then people came in and bought tickets, had a gala, it was a black tie affair, had a nice dinner and saw the show and United way was able to them bring in 130 thousand dollars,” Nyikos said.

The line for the event, never ending, as community members continuously lined up for hours to check it out.

Along with being able to help raise money for United Way, Nyikos says the best part of it all was seeing the community involvement.

“Everything we do is with the local community. So, all these 65 artists that came from around the world were treated to the mom and pop restaurants, mom and pop museums, the local bakery came and helped and everything was donated to us that we were donating back so it was a win-win there which was really kind of cool. But then the camaraderie and meeting all these people from around the world, donated their time their treasures, they’re taking time away from their businesses and paid to come and do this for each community.”

Nyikos says nothing is set in stone just yet, but she’s confident that the big balloon build could be making one of its next stops in South Bend.

For more information on how you can get your hands on a balloon build in your yard, you can visit Fun By The Yard’s website by clicking here.

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