Serving the community since 1970

Italy lives on in family's dream business

A new business opened in Shafter last weekend, a balloon and gift shop located on Central Avenue next door to Sno-Fun. Owned and operated by Judith and Noe Gonzalez, the store sells balloons, greeting cards, t-shirts and gifts for the family.

A ribbon-cutting took place on Friday, with Mayor Chad Givens, Mayor Pro-Tem Cathy Prout and Councilmember Pete Espinoza on hand, as well as a good number of the community.

Gonzalez said that he is so excited to be open, not only for the opportunity to give back to the city, but also for his daughter, Italy, who was diagnosed with leukemia a few years ago and underwent two bone marrow transplants. She passed away in February, but Gonzalez said that their family's dream will live on in her memory.

When she was in the hospital, her mother Judith and Italy would talk for hours about the store that they would open up when she got older. In their plan, Judith, who has been doing balloons for years, would take care of the balloons, and Italy would advise on what gifts to bring into the store. "You know kids nowadays are so plugged in with the social media, and Italy was no different. She knew so much about what is 'in' with the girls her age and couldn't wait to open that shop," her mother said.

The dream has become a reality, just as they had laid it out, except for the name. In their original plans, the business was called Balloons by Judith, but now it is called Italy's Balloon Bar.


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