South Charlotte

Jonathan Cress finds satisfaction in ballooning career

Balloon sculpture artist Jonathan Cress, 23, has gigs with a couple of restaurants on a consistent basis, as well as working at parties, fairs and school functions.
Balloon sculpture artist Jonathan Cress, 23, has gigs with a couple of restaurants on a consistent basis, as well as working at parties, fairs and school functions. KAREN SCIOSCIA

Jonathan Cress has found a way to have fun, be creative and earn a living.

“I always loved magic and entertaining, even when I was little,” Cress said. “I never thought I’d be able to find a career to satisfy my imaginative side, though.”

Today, though, Cress utilizes his adept skills of balloon twisting and sculpture for his career.

He uses a pump to blow up the long, thin balloons. Before you can say, “Balloon art,” he has made a turtle, sword, dog or almost anything you can imagine. Children love him. And frankly, he’s fun to watch.

“What started out as an enjoyable side business has turned into a career,” Cress said recently.

Cress, 23, was born in Dallas and moved from Texas with his family to Denver, Colo., when he was 8 years old. Cress is the oldest of three children.

“I was home-schooled and liked it a lot. My parents taught us to be self-reliant and to work hard,” he said. “I played football in a league which included kids that were home-schooled or attended private schools not affiliated with another league.”

His first job was at a Chick-fil-A in Denver.

“I bought and paid for my first car myself,” he said.

The family moved to the Mint Hill area when he was 16. Cress took classes at Central Piedmont Community College, in addition to his home high school classes. At 18, he had earned an associate degree. With plans to be a psychologist, Cress began taking classes at UNC Charlotte.

While in school, he met magician Adrian Gagnon, who became his mentor.

“I was working in restaurants at night while at UNCC and also worked with Adrian entertaining – doing balloon sculpturing, face painting, things like that,” Cress said. “As the business continued to grow, I started my own company, Balloon Aces, and left school to work full time.”

His company has continued to grow, and Cress now has six contractors working for him. He has gigs with a couple of restaurants on a consistent basis, as well as working at parties, fairs and school functions.

Cress also is a runner. He participated in the Disney marathon in Orlando, Fla., last year and likes to run in two half-marathons each year. His wife, Lauren, likes to run, too. They enjoy going to Disney World.

“We both love all things Disney, and seeing everyone there having so much fun,” said Jonathan Cress.

The couple lives near StoneCrest, where Lauren works as marketing director for the Stonecrest Chick-fil-A.

Progress report

Some of you may remember my recent column about Roy Wesley Brady Jr.

He’s walking from Charlotte to Camp Pendleton in California – nearly 2,400 miles – to raise money to help combat-wounded and injured veterans. He started his journey, part of the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge, on March 1.

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On March 14, Charlie Dunkelberger, a U.S. Air Force veteran, walked the section in Tennessee between Knoxville to Kingston with Brady.

Brady said he is meeting great people along his route and receiving a lot of support and encouragement.

Karen Scioscia is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Karen? Email her at kapril12@hotmail.com.

Learn more:

For more information on Balloon Aces, email Jonathan Cress at jcress24@gmail.com or find the company on Facebook. Photos of his craft can also be perused on the Facebook page.

To follow Roy Wesley Brady Jr.’s progress on his nearly 2,400-mile walk, go to his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/walk4warriors or visit www.combatwounded.org/walk.

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