While a New Year countdown party in Punggol will still go on, the mass balloon release that its organisers had planned will not.
Environmentalists and nature lovers had voiced concerns that, when released, balloons pose a threat to birds, and to marine life and the environment after they fall into the sea.
Punggol resident Cherh Kah Leng, 29, a marine-biology graduate student, wrote to The Straits Times' Forum page last week about Punggol Vista Community Centre's countdown party to point out that sea turtles may mistake deflated balloons for food, while strings from handheld balloons can potentially entangle birds. "I would not want to see egrets, kites, kingfishers and shrikes at Punggol Waterway being entangled and endangered by balloons," she wrote.
Several others had posted similar remarks on the community centre's Facebook page.
In response, the organisers decided to scrap the balloon release for the party, which will be held next to Punggol MRT station.
Madam Lam Lee Choo, chairman of the countdown party's organising committee, said in a statement: "The organising committee agrees that it would not be appropriate to have a mass release of balloons to mark the new year, as these would pose a hazard to wildlife, as well as result in litter...
"The event and the carnival, together with all the other activities, will proceed, and we will find some other meaningful way to celebrate the New Year as one community. We welcome all residents who have given us feedback to join the party."
Other party activities, such as performances, game booths and lucky draws, will still go ahead.
When contacted yesterday, Ms Cherh said she was glad the organisers have responded to the public feedback.
"I hope this is because they agree with our views and the organisation will henceforth be guided by this new awareness and respect for the environment," she added.
She also suggested that the authorities ban mass helium-balloon releases in future, likening them to "an act of mass littering".
Nature enthusiast Ria Tan, 52, who has found deflated balloons in mangroves and on beaches here, agreed. "Bravo for reconsidering the mass balloon release," she posted on the community centre's Facebook page.
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