‘Bal­loon Nerd’ twists cre­ations in So. Md.

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Tif­fIndyNews

The Bal­loon Nerd has become a phe­nom­e­non in South­ern Mary­land. White Plains na­tive Brian Gar­ner refers to him­self as The Bal­loon Nerd, a com­i­cal bal­loon twister and ma­gi­cian who has ded­i­cated his life to en­ter­tain­ing oth­ers and bring­ing smiles to lo­cal chil­dren.

“I was known as the funny magic dude,” Gar­ner said. “I came up with ‘Bal­loon Nerd’ where I wear glasses, sus­penders and tie. It’s a mod­ern ap­proach and be­ing a nerd isn’t what it used to be. Now it means that you are ex­tremely pas­sion­ate about some­thing — mine is bal­loons and magic, so I fig­ured why not mix both.”

He has been twist­ing bal­loons for only a cou­ple of years, but has made his mark in the in­dus­try with his unique bal­loon cre­ations. Gar­ner started do­ing magic at 6 years old and be­gan per­form­ing for lo­cal crowds by age 8. At 34, he be­gan his ob­ses­sion with bal­loon twist­ing. A few of his fa­vorite bal­loon twisters are Buster Bal­loon, Phileas Flash, Matt Fal­lion and Jeremy John­ston.

“They have all dif­fer­ent styles,” Gar­ner said. “Buster Bal­loon is like the David Cop­per­field of bal­loon twist­ing to me. He’s my idol. He bought one of my videos that are for bal­loon twisters who are ad­vanced.”

Gar­ner said his bal­loon twist­ing has become a creative out­let that al­lows him to add a unique, spe­cial touch to al­most any event. He said three years ago he was per­form­ing at a magic con­ven­tion in Crys­tal City where he saw an as­sort­ment of Avenger bal­loons.

“I had no idea, be­cause I thought all that ex­isted was a dog, a sword and [a] hat, which you see ev­ery­body do,” he said. “I picked up a cou­ple of bags of bal­loons be­cause I thought it would be some­thing fun to try and I re­al­ized I wasn’t that bad at it and I was shocked.”

From that mo­ment, some­thing clicked in Gar­ner’s mind. He be­gan to bal­loon twist every night, mak­ing dif­fer­ent car­toon and movie char­ac­ters. Then he would post his bal­loon twist­ing cre­ations on so­cial me­dia. Later, Gar­ner de­vel­oped a bal­loon en­ter­tain­ment show and added more magic for more fam­i­lies to have a spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It’s not a pay­check for me — it’s the pas­sion of see­ing some­thing that I’ve cre­ated, af­fect kids in a pos­i­tive way,” he said. “Grow­ing up I didn’t think that I would amount to any­thing. I was the only kid around here do­ing magic and South­ern Mary­land has been my home for 37 years, so this is all I’ve done. It just doesn’t fit the norm.”

Brian said his fa­vorite part about bal­loon twist­ing is be­ing able to take a weird spaghetti-shaped bal­loon and trans­form it into some­thing that no one would ex­pect him to make. He has per­formed at the White House, Walt Dis­ney World and Six Flags. Brian has even twisted bal­loon an­i­mals for Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals play­ers.

Some of his fa­vorite bal­loon twist­ing cre­ations in­clude Cap­tain Crunch, Cap­tain Hook, Peter Pan, the Jolly Green Gi­ant and an eight-foot “Star Wars” ship. The Bal­loon Nerd even adds pupils and eye­brows to many of his bal­loon char­ac­ter cre­ations to add to the “wow” fac­tor. He said it typ­i­cally takes him ap­prox­i­mately two to five min­utes to cre­ate each fig­ure with a line of 150 kids.

“He loves what he does and it shows,” said his wife, Shan­non. “What amazes me is that he will en­vi­sion some­thing and it is bet­ter than you would ex­pect. He is very pre­cise in what he does. It still amazes me af­ter ten years. The love and pas­sion he has for it is amaz­ing.”

Their son Gavin Gar­ner, 7, said he goes to par­ties with his dad and calls him­self “Bal­loon Boy.”

“I want to be just like him when I grow up,” Gavin said.

On Nov. 8, La Plata res­i­dents Krissie Gil­roy and her son, Blake Gil­roy, 7, vis­ited Texas Road­house in La Plata, where the Bal­loon Nerd fre­quently en­ter­tains fam­i­lies.

Blake, who re­ceived a sword, said he was ex­cited about meet­ing the Bal­loon Nerd and was truly im­pressed with his cre­ations.

“First we saw his sign and I was think­ing he would just do small lit­tle bal­loon an­i­mals, but he’s much more than that,” Krissie said. “It was com­pletely shock­ing. We love him and I love see­ing the kids laugh­ing at him.”

Gar­ner looks for­ward to see­ing and re­ceiv­ing hugs from his “bal­loon nerd ras­cals” who fol­low him to every event. He re­leased a DVD about bal­loon twist­ing in De­cem­ber 2015, called “It’s Alive,” and plans to soon de­but sev­eral short videos about bal­loon twist­ing. For more in­for­ma­tion on Gar­ner, go to www.bal­loon­nerd. com.


On Nov. 8, La Plata res­i­dent Blake Gil­roy, 7, re­ceived a unique sword from the Bal­loon Nerd at Texas Road­house. Brian Gar­ner per­forms at the La Plata lo­ca­tion every Tues­day for chil­dren.


Brian Gar­ner of White Plains, known as “The Bal­loon Nerd,” per­forms a bal­loon en­ter­tain­ment show at Texas Road­house in La Plata every Tues­day.

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