Call the fun police! Norwegian cops destroy helium balloons on national day

Police officers confiscated and destroyed helium balloons during national day celebrations on May 17th, following through on previously announced bans.

Call the fun police! Norwegian cops destroy helium balloons on national day
Helium balloons in Oslo on May 17th, 2015. Photo: Jon Olav Nesvold / NTB scanpix
A number of towns said prior to the May 17th celebrations that helium balloons would be prohibited, arguing that they pose a litter problem. Oslo and at least 28 other municipalities banned the sale of helium balloons during the national day celebrations. 
Those who dared to flout the balloon ban had their fun deflated. At several locations in Oslo and Bærum, police confiscated helium balloons and destroyed them. 
“There were five to six episodes throughout the day in Oslo and Bærum in which we went out and confiscated balloons or destroyed them on the spot. Some of the balloon sellers apparently refused to accept the ban while others just decided to take a chance,” Oslo police spokesman Tor Jøkling told VG. 
At least one balloon seller indicated that the air has yet to go out of the fight.  
“He said that he lost quite a bit of money and would challenge the legality of the decision,” Jøkling said.  
The helium balloon ban may continue to hover long after the May 17th celebrations. The environmentalist Green party has indicated that it may try to push for a complete nationwide ban. 
“Most people don’t like flying plastic litter. It would be crazy for any party not to support such a proposal,” the Green party’s Rasmus Hansson told broadcaster NRK last month.


Oslo police stop May 17th parade with ‘around 150’ participants

Police in Oslo halted a parade to mark Norway’s National Day on Monday in which the number of participants appeared to exceed the city’s current restrictions on public assembly.

Oslo police stop May 17th parade with 'around 150' participants
Photo by Ernest Ojeh on Unsplash

Around 150 people gathered in central Oslo to take part in a parade, which was stopped by police as it headed towards the Royal Palace, newspaper VG reported.

“They had a size of about 150, give or take. They were moving around the city centre and at one point crossed Karl Johan (street) towards the palace,” senior police officer Tor Gulbrandsen told VG.

The event was called an “alternative May 17th parade” by Gulbrandsen, in absence of the city’s regular National Day celebrations.

Norway’s current coronavirus restrictions allow parades of up to 200 people provided social distancing is observed. But restrictions in Oslo are significantly tighter, with public assembly limited at 10 people.


“Another event was taking place at the palace. The police therefore chose to stop this alternative parade before it reached Slottsplassen [Palace Square, ed.],” the police officer said.

Participants joined the parade as a protest against Norway’s coronavirus restrictions, VG writes.

The royal family was on the balcony at the palace, in keeping with regular May 17th traditions, as the alternative parade approached the location, police said.

“Things happened calmly, but the police had to clearly communicate with the organisers to prevent them from disrupting the other event,” Gulbrandsen said.

That included using megaphones to inform them that their event was “illegal”.

The parade then moved towards the Egertorget square, by which time the number of participants had dwindled.

“Police were in the area to ensure they did not disrupt other events and have thoroughly documented the behaviour that went on. We must subsequently look at whether there will be stronger response (by police), it is too early to say as of now,” Gulbrandsen told VG.