Almost two years after Falcon Heene did not float away in his father's homemade helium balloon, the legend is still flying high. And Michael Fruitman, the owner of Mike's Stadium Sportscards in Aurora, plans to enjoy the ride. He just bought this "unique piece of Colorado history," which he calls "FlimFlam One," for $2,502 in a private auction.
Fruitman, who opened his store in December 1992, has sold vintage sports memorabilia, autographed sports cards, jerseys and similar items over the years. But besides a piece of Brad Pitt's sweater from the movie Spy Game, he 's focused on sports -- until now. "For years, I've always been lucky to have people come in and see all the unique John Elway sports cards I have," says Fruitman. "With this, I wanted to give people a completely different reason to come see my store. People saw it fly; now they can see it in person."
Up-close, the balloon boy hoax balloon just looks like $2,000 in tin foil.
Although Fruitman says he "loves a good practical joke," he doesn't approve of how Richard Heene lied to officials and made the world think his son was high in the sky -- when Falcon was actually hiding in the garage. "I don't support lying to the police or any other safety organization -- I would not have done what Mr. Heene did," says Fruitman. "Once we found out that the child's life was no longer in danger, this thing became a big joke for the people. It was a terrible waste of time and a big waste of money for the media, and now I get to be part of the joke."
The Heenes now live in Florida. When they announced they were auctioning off the balloon, they said they estimated it would bring in a million dollars, which they planned to donate to tsunami relief in Japan, because Falcon's mother, Mayumi, is Japanese. But Fruitman won the prize with a bid of just over $2,500.
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The balloon went up at noon yesterday at Mike's Stadium Sportscards at 4022 South Parker Road, and it will stay on display there until October 15, the second anniversary of the "Balloon Boy" incident. After that, Fruitman plans to cut the balloon into separate pieces and sell them as mementos. The proceeds from that project will go towards the funding of baskets for his mother's Thanksgiving charity event.
The sky's the limit.
More from balloon boy: "This is what silver balloon boy Falcon Heene was imagining: Flight of the Navigator!"