Hot Air Rant: Why We Hate Inflatable Statues

Drive down any state highway today and one thing is clear -- the age of concrete and steel is under attack. This is the era of the knockoff, throwaway inflatable. Titanic balloon tomatoes wobble atop produce stands. Giant gorillas sway from gas stations.

These hot-air humbuggeries have blossomed like fake neon in recent decades, heralds of a nation obsessed with immediate return and fearful of being caught without an exit strategy. "We need to boost earnings this quarter," the logic goes. "If that big ape doesn't work, we can get rid of it quick."

Keeping the inflatable inflated.
Keeping the inflatable inflated.

Roadside America deplores this candy-ass lack of entrepreneurial backbone. Where, we wonder, will the bet-hedging end? With inflatable 9/11 memorials and Civil War monuments? Inflatable howitzers and tanks on our courthouse lawns? Perhaps we can fill them with colorful balls and turn them into PlayZones for our kids? Well, wouldn't that be safe and inoffensive!

If you're going to put up a giant strawberry or cow along the highway, show that your commitment is worthy of its size. Build it out of two tons of concrete! Make something that would take dynamite to bring down and ten thousand bucks to haul away!

When you can open a valve and make a giant chicken disappear, you might as well let the air out of America's rugged individualism, too.

Note: While we don't want to encourage more towns and businesses to fall into the easy inflatable trap, there's a new set of inflatable products that simulate buildings and even infamous ships. We'd be intrigued by an inflatable motel, or even an entire town manufactured overnight from inflatables.

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August 12, 2020

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