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Nebraska Environmentalist Started A Petition To Stop The Huskers From Releasing Balloons After Their First TD At Home Games

When you're at Memorial Stadium, you don't have to look at the scoreboard or even on the field to know if Nebraska has scored a touchdown. 

Just look up at the sky. 

The Huskers, since the 1940s, have been releasing thousands of scarlet balloons into the air following Nebraska's first touchdown at every home game. 

One Nebraska environmentalist wants that to stop. 

">September 23, 2014

Benjamin Vogt wrote on his blog, The Deep Middle, that he's starting a petition to prevent Nebraska from releasing the onslaught of balloons on fall Saturdays.

“Releasing balloons to celebrate the first touchdown at Husker football games is nothing short of mass littering — punishable by fines most everywhere else — and the practice kills wildlife while polluting Nebraska and states thousands of miles away,” Vogt wrote. “This is not a tradition worth keeping if we love Nebraska, our home.”

Vogt has a personal connection to the issue. Vogt and his wife found a Husker balloon in their garden after a September 2012 football game. The practice was supposed to stop that season due to a helium shortage, but Nebraska officials decided to keep the tradition going, releasing about half as many balloons as before. 

An english professor at UNL, Vogt also owns a native plant garden coaching and design business, Monarch Gardens. When he and his wife found the balloon, they decided to bury it to see how long it would take to decompose. They dug it up about a year later to find it still intact. 

“The latex does feel more brittle, and the ink is now crackled. But, the balloon has yet to decompose, even after two years,” Vogt’s wife wrote on his blog. 

Nebraska officials have commented on the petition. 

“Research shows that latex balloons are safer because they are made from organic materials that begin to break down immediately and shatter into small pieces within about three hours of release, or after rising about five miles into the air,” Chris Anderson, director of community relations for the athletic department, told Watch Dog.

“Because we care about our environment, we will continue to use only latex biodegradable balloons, cotton strings and will closely monitor research in this area,” she said.

Nebraska hosts Illinois this Saturday.