Alex Markoff has been making kids smile at the Davis Farmer’s Market for 7 years. But he doesn’t sell fruit or tamales, hot dogs, pastries or coffee of an kind. He sells fun.
“What color should we make your stem, dear?”
Alex is the guy I call “The Balloon Man” because every Saturday he’s like a Pied Piper at the head of a long line of eager children waiting their turn for the balloon creations he twists up before their big eyes at the Davis Farmer’s Market. From monkeys to poodles, flowers to sheaths and swords, Alex can make any child’s face light up with the squeak and twist of a long blue balloon.
“Put them arms up like wings and we’ll fasten that belt on you!”
Alex says he’s been working at the Davis Market for 7 or 8 years because the kids here love his work and he loves the chance to interact with children. He says there’s nothing like the look on their faces when a floppy piece of plastic turns into the shape of their choosing.
“I think having balloons come alive is a big thing for a little kid.”
A child’s happiness is something Alex says he cares for very much. He is of Russian decent and he says he has traveled there often as part of a group going to orphanages and hospitals to bring smiles and hope to children in need. He says he helped start an organization called Loves Bridge to continue this kind of work so that as many kids as possible could benefit. While in Russia, Alex says he worked with someone who twisted long balloons into cute shapes for the kids and that’s where he picked up the talent he brings to the Farmer’s Market each Saturday.
During the week Alex manages testing centers and lives in nearby Cordelia. But on Saturdays he is the Balloon Man to hundreds of Davis children who’ve had the fun of lining up for a flower, sword or ladybug.
“I love Davis. That’s why I come here. It’s my favorite place to make balloons. I used to do it in Vacaville, Dixon, Fairfield but I love Davis the most. I love the people, the market’s really neat, it has a lot to do with the atmosphere–it’s a community gathering.”
Alex says he can’t possible count how many balloons he’s made over his career but he can say the shape he makes most often–the sword. Which is easy to understand because it’s the one you can play with and have fun with the easiest– and fun is what Alex Markoff’s balloons are all about.