The red balloon was one of the trickiest pieces to figure out in Goodnight Moon. We wanted it to be able to move around the room, tip side to side, and move up and down. After some crazy ideas involving fishing poles rigged with right angles, tracks and pulleys running around over the set, etc. we realized the easiest solution was yo make the balloon a marionette operated from the catwalk.
(Big shout out here to the run crew person who climbs the ladders, makes the balloon dance and then climbs back down a dozen times per show).
The balloon itself is just thick paper mache formed around a large rubber playground ball. It has four screw eyes around the sides where the strings attach and are run to the grid.
At the top of the strings is this this cross piece. Each arm corresponding to one side of the balloon. Instead of tying off at each point, I put an eye hook at each point and continued running each string through screw eyes, over the top of the crosspiece, and down to the handle where the operator will be holding the piece.
At the end of the handle all of the strings are run back to this fishing reel. The reel allows the puppeteer a wide range of up and down motion. Also, by counting turns she is able to hit designated heights consistently.
Hanging off the end of the crosspiece is this clip. The clip allows the puppeteer to clip into the grid where ever she is over the stage. The balloon clips into the grid, balances on the bar nearby and the puppeteer can leave it whenever she needs to to run downstairs to operate any of the other puppets.