Vandemore Funeral Homes & Crematory’s third-annual community balloon release will be an evening to remember loved ones.

Vandemore Funeral Homes & Crematory’s third-annual community balloon release will be an evening to remember loved ones.

The 2018 balloon release will be from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 23 at Vandemore Funeral Home, on Ogden Avenue, in Geneseo.

The evening will include a balloon release, memorial words by Deacon Harley Chaffee, light refreshments and time for remembering and socializing.

“We’ve found the balloon release is a nice, uplifting way for families to come back and remember those who have passed away. It’s a joyful and happy time of remembrance,” said Kathleen Repass, advanced planning and aftercare consultant for the funeral home.

“We say we encourage anyone who has lost a family member, friend or pet in the past year to attend, but it doesn’t really matter where or when a person or pet passed away, if they’d like to attend, we’d be thrilled to have them,” she said.

The release will be the Wednesday prior to the Memorial Day weekend.

“It’s a nice way to lead into the Memorial Day weekend,” said Repass.

At the balloon release, participants will be encouraged to write a message to their loved one on a balloon.

The balloons are bio-degradable and environmentally friendly.

“We don’t even use strings, because people were concerned that the strings could harm wildlife, so we just hold on to the balloons until the time of release,” said Repass.

All ages are invited to the balloon release. “The children who come back to honor primarily grandparents or aunts and uncles are just excited about writing a message on a balloon to release it into the clouds and up into heaven,” she said. “It’s a way to teach children that even though a person isn’t here, we can still honor them. For children it helps ease the fear and uncertainty.”

“Symbols of remembrance are critical when grieving a death, not just in the short time after death, but for a long time after,” said funeral director Joel Vandemore. “Our loved ones may be gone, but they’re never forgotten.”

In addition to remembering human loved ones, Repass stressed that those who’ve lost pets are also invited to attend.

“Our pet families are so devoted to their pets, and a pet can have such an impact on a person’s lives,” she said.

Vandemore Funeral Home & Crematory hosted its first balloon release in 2016. That inaugural release took place at the Geneseo City Park before being moved to the funeral home in 2017.

Having it at the funeral home provides an indoor location for families to gather and chat, should weather be inclement.

“Last year it was very rainy right up until about 5 minutes before the release,” remembers Repass. “It was easy having everyone inside visiting out of the weather.”

That time of socializing is a key part of the balloon release event, said Vandemore.

“The event is more about joy than tears. We want to have a time of reflecting on happy memories and joy,” he said. “It was neat to watch everyone last year share and visit with each other.”