In Colorado, at least, the long Balloon Boy saga is over

Leaving only a garage full of junk and a bizarre but increasingly distant memory, the Heene family, which made its name internationally notorious when father Richard told police and media outlets his son, Falcon, was missing and presumed to be high above the earth in a UFO-looking homemade weather balloon, packed up and left town last week, setting off for the warmer climes of Florida. It's an ironic end to a depressing story that started in a misguided bid for fame and ended in just that, in the worst possible way.

As most people know by now, the balloon in question was chased for several hours and at great expense by several police organizations and even a couple of national guard helicopters. In the aftermath, the boy gaffed on Wolf Blitzer when said, "You guys said that, um, we did this for the show," and then -- poor kid -- vomited under the strain when he was asked on Good Morning America to follow up on the comment. Suspicions formed that the whole thing was a ruse, and those suspicions grew even more when it was revealed that the family was on a mission to get its own reality TV show going. In the shitstorm that followed, Heene became a magnet for nearly ubiquitous ridicule from all corners of the media, inspiring jokes, skits, memes and even a few iPhone apps and browser games.

It's been almost a year, and we're still talking about it -- and not just in Colorado. In fact, it was USA Today that reported the Heene family's move last week, and TMZ that reported over the weekend that the family's former Ft. Collins home had been rented.

Other than that his mother lives there, Heene didn't give a reason for packing it in, but it's probably safe to say the family would like to get a fresh start. Like Star Wars Kid, the family suffered a viral humiliation that will live on the internetz in perpetuity -- but unlike Star Wars Kid, who was guilty only of being caught indulging a goofy fantasy, the Heene family's humiliation was entirely self-imposed. It's a classic lesson in being careful what you wish for.

So we bid the good family Heene a fond adieu -- thanks for the laughs, guys, but we can no longer call you our own. And with that, it seems appropriate to consider the pertinent sentiments of the poet John Keats, from "On Fame:"

Fame, like a wayward girl, will still be coy
To those who woo her with too slavish knees

Certainly, when it comes to Richard Heene, few knees have ever been quite so slavish.

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Jef Otte
Contact: Jef Otte