Balloon master Treb Heining has key role in Republican National Convention climax

TAMPA - Before the lights go out on the 2012 RNC, the Tampa Bay Times Forum will be flooded with more than 100,000 balloons held in place by nets high above the convention floor.

The person responsible, as you might guess, knows a thing or two about balloons and he's made a career out of it.

Treb Heining started as a balloon seller at Disneyland in 1969 when he was 15. In college, Heining began experimenting and created balloon columns and garlands

After some encouragement by Jelly Belly king David Klein, Heining decided to go for it and do the balloon thing full time. As it turned out, he had the balloon business cornered.  Before long, he found himself doing everything from mall openings to Super Bowls.

He eventually added confetti to his offerings.

He's done balloon and confetti drops for 18 Super Bowls, three presidential inaugurations, five Academy Awards, the Olympics and much more.

"Oh, and there's that little event in Tiimes Square every year," Heining said.  "We started the confetti effect in Times Square back in 1991 and we've been doing that for 21 years now. So when you see the ball come down, all that confetti that comes down every year is our crew, all done by hand. It's a crew of more than 120 people."

This is the seventh Republican National Convention for Heining's business, Glass House Balloon Company.

All those balloons were inflated in a little more than four hours last Friday and were in place buy 6 p.m.

Since starting Glass House, similar businesses have popped up. Heining said worldwide, there are now some 50,000 balloon-related businesses. But Heining is in a league of his own.

"There's always competition, but on this scale I have a reputation for professionalism and doing it right. When you want something different, they usually call me," Heining said. "It's the classic American success story. I love my job. I love what I do."

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