A long standing tradition at Memorial Stadium is about to take a hiatus. A nationwide shortage of helium is to blame. That means this year fans will not be releasing red balloons after the first touchdown of each game. Channel 6 learned that local businesses are also suffering.
The balloon section at Nobbies is full of business. But a sign explaining their helium shortage has customers asking questions.
“A lot of people don't believe it, they think it’s a hoax. But we tell them and explain that there is a national shortage,” said Gordon Watanabe.
They are still selling air filled balloons and centerpieces. They also sell individual helium tanks but they only fill about 30 balloons.
Omaha Rental owner Bill Gray is suffering from the helium shortage. He says they usually fill thousands of balloon orders each year. But this year all their equipment is in the backroom.
“People just wouldn't believe you. It's very frustrating,” said Gray.
The shortage is grabbing Husker fans attention after the university announced it will not be releasing red balloons after the first touchdown of each game.
But the helium shortage goes beyond local business and Husker football. If the shortage continues, experts say it could hurt the medical industry, particularly anyone needing an MRI.
And the reason for the shortage is blamed on the mild winters we’ve seen the past few years.
Gray says he hopes Husker Fans find a new way to continue the old tradition.
“Are we gonna fill them with water or I don't know what. That's terrible that we don't have balloons,” said Gray.
The university plans to give fans one last chance at their season opener. However, only 2,000 balloons will be filled, instead of the usual 4,000-5,000.