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Black balloons at State House commemorate those affected by addiction

  • People gather at the State House in Concord for Black Balloon Day on Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • People gather at the State House in Concord for Black Balloon Day on Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Patty Hopkins of Laconia wipes away tears during Black Balloon Day on Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Lisa Walsh of Derry (right) props up a sign remembering her son at the State House in Concord for Black Balloon Day on Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018. Walsh lost her son, Shane, to a fentanyl overdose in 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Shannan Landry and her mother Patty Hopkins of Laconia stand with their balloons at the State House in Concord for Black Balloon Day on Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018. Hopkins helped organize the event. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Lisa Walsh of Derry (center) and others gathered at the State House in Concord for Black Balloon Day on Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018. Walsh lost her son, Shane, to a fentanyl overdose in 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Wednesday, March 07, 2018

To honor a loved one who died of a drug overdose, Lauren Hurley and her mother Diane of Peabody, Mass., asked people to fly a black balloon in front of their homes on March 6, 2016, if they were affected by addiction.

That was the one-year anniversary of the fatal overdose of Lauren’s brother-in-law, Greg Tremblay.

Slowly, the idea has been spreading across communities affected by the opioid epidemic, and on Tuesday, Lisa Walsh of Derry, Patty Hopkins of Laconia, their families and about a dozen others brought Black Balloon Day to the State House in Concord, in addition to flying balloons on their porches at home.

Some people held one or two balloons. Others brought bundles. The balloons could signify someone they knew who was affected by addiction, or a loved one who overdosed and died. Hopkins’s 30-year-old daughter, Shannan Landry, held more than 15.

“I wish that I had more time and more balloons, because we could fill this whole property. It would just continue going on, and on, and on,” she said.

Landry lost her sister, Tanita, in 2016, as well as many other loved ones over the years. She’s in recovery herself and relocated to Florida to seek treatment after not finding the resources she needed in New Hampshire.

Hopkins extended an invitation to Gov. Chris Sununu, who joined the group outside the State House for almost 30 minutes to discuss what can be done to support those battling addiction.

At the end of the hour, Walsh asked those remaining to gather for a moment of silence before sharing the names of those they wished to remember – names found on many of the balloons being spun by the wind.

Mingled in with the others, Landry and her family brought an additional inflatable.

“We have a balloon here that says ‘To be determined. Who’s next,’ because it’s just going to continue going on, and on, and on.”

(Elizabeth Frantz can be reached at efrantz@cmonitor.com or on Twitter
@lizfrantz.)