BLACKFOOT — Ping-pong balls rained down on Interstate 15 north of Blackfoot last Saturday when an annual giveaway event for Blackfoot Pride Days went terribly wrong, but luckily no one was injured scrambling to recover the wayward prizes.
“It was ridiculous,” said Blackfoot resident Sarah Taylor who watched the airplane make the drop. “Kids and adults were actually running out on the freeway to get the balls.”
It was the first year for a new pilot to make the 3,000 pingpong ball drop for the annual event and a friend of the pilot said he simply misjudged the wind.
“I know the pilot and he was right over the target and the wind took them (the balls) back over the freeway,” the friend, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
Pilots have donated their time and aircraft to make the drop and provide airplane rides at Blackfoot Airport during the Pride Days festivities at Jensen's Grove.
Taylor said she could hear the balls popping as they were struck by cars on I-15. She said she was worried that might not be all that the cars would hit. Taylor said hundreds of the balls ended up in the median between the northbound and southbound lanes and the police had to react quickly to keep people off the busy, high-speed roadway.
Taylor said the downpour of balls had to be unexpected for motorists and a little confusing.
“You could hear them popping as people ran over them,” Taylor said. “People needed to realize that's a dangerous situation. I'm glad nobody got hit and there was no accidents.”
The ping-pong ball drop has been a part of Blackfoot Pride Days for more than a decade and it has been sponsored by O'Dell's Furniture — which supplies many of the prizes like discounts on furniture purchases.
O'Dell's handed out a bunch of prizes for children after the balls missed the mark, according to Taylor.
“They were great,” she said.