‘Balloon Nerd’ twists creations in So. Md.
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.