Lido Beach special-needs camp under fire for balloon release

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A Lido Beach special-needs camp is coming under fire for a celebratory last-day activity it did with campers.

Environmentalists are calling Camp Anchor’s balloon release on Friday irresponsible.

Administrators say it's a decades-old tradition to celebrate the end of the summer.

The supervisor of the program, which is operated by the Town of Hempstead, says approximately 250 balloons were released by the campers as a way to signify them moving onto their next step in life.

A picture of the event has been receiving criticism on social media - including from concerned residents who say the balloons could ultimately land in the ocean and harm marine life.

This comes as municipalities over the Island are instituting or considering bans on the intentional release of balloons.

The practice is already illegal in the Town of East Hampton and in Long Beach, which is right next to the camp.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen was in the picture.  She would not talk on camera, but released a statement that said, "We have made great strides in the town recently to protect the environment and look forward to reviewing legislation to address this issue..."

The supervisor of the Anchor program says the balloons are not harmful to the environment.

“In the past three years, we've used biodegradable balloons. We're also are always concerned about our environment at Anchor. The families do beach grass planting, they do a beach cleanup yearly. They also, every morning, go around and recycle every bottle and cup that was left behind at camp,” says Mary Ann Hanson, supervisor of the Anchor Program.

The program supervisor said they cut down significantly on the number of balloons that were released this year, and next year they will use bubbles instead.

Hempstead has no law against releasing balloons. A town spokesperson says a ban could be considered.

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