ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Giles County Commonwealth’s Attorney Bobby Lilly has always followed his law professor’s suggestion to keep up his hobbies. This week that advice has him taking his talents to new heights.
“On my first day at Washington & Lee School of Law, Professor Uncas McThenia strongly encouraged us to keep up our hobbies and interests in things that are outside of law school,” said Lilly, formerly an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Pulaski County. “He was adamant that we all need an outlet that uses the other parts of the brain that get neglected during the all-consuming time in law school.
““Each of us has a set of unique talents and interests. The challenge is to bring them TO our chosen careers, rather than to replace them WITH our professions,” he said.
As a result, Lilly has been “twisting” or turning balloons into balloon art for the past 33 years. This week, he is in Rochester, N.Y., as part of a 75-member crew from around the world in creating a five-story all-balloon sculpture entitled, “The VERY Tall Tale of Jack and His Beanstalk.”
The sculpture is being constructed with about 50,000 balloons over a four-day period. It will be on display in The Sibley Building on East Main Street Feb. 5-9 and there will be a special “popping party” to bring it down Feb. 10.
“We are having a big balloon convention here in Rochester on Wednesday through Sunday, so many of the crew members came early to be a part of the project and will stay through the weekend,” he said. “I wish I could stay for the popping party, but I have to get back to Giles for court.”
However, he said he did help with stuffing prize coupons into balloons and incorporating them into the first floor level of the sculpture for guests to discover when they start popping the balloons. “It’s kind of like hiding Easter Eggs,” he added.
The experience also has given him an opportunity to make new friends. He equated it to being like “a reunion of new old friends.”
He added, “I had lunch yesterday with new friends from Japan, the Ukraine, Scotland and Canada. We have people from many different states, and I even found a Virginia Tech grad in our midst.”
Some members of the crew are full time decorators, some are party planners, some are balloon professionals and others are entertainers who do a variety of arts. “We have retired school teachers and engineers. And I am not the only lawyer in the bunch – one of our crew chiefs is a former patent attorney,” he said.
Lilly said this is the first time he has ever been involved with balloon art on that grand of a scale. He called it “one of the most exciting and inspiring artistic projects I have ever experienced.”