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LA’s Shade Balls Are Still (Mostly) Going Strong

A year into their fame, the LA Reservoir is still covered with the little guys.

Whew! Remember that madness?

August 2015’s Great Shade Ball Rush was a full year ago, which means time flies faster than a horde of fist-sized spheres cascading down an incline. It also means we’re about due for a shade ball report.

If you’re not familiar, shade balls protect water by covering its surface. They’ve been deployed in reservoirs across LA to keep them safe from sunlight, dust, birds, and other threats. Said deployment is really fun to watch, involving what looks like an entire goth ball pit tumbling down a slope and massing in the water.

Emily Guerin of Southern California Public Radio recently checked in on everyone’s favorite environmentally-friendly balls. She reports that although many of them have since been replaced by tarps, those that started last summer’s craze—the 96 million bumping around in the LA Reservoir—are still going strong.

“It has worked exactly as we planned it to work,” Richard Harasick, director of water operations at LA Department of Water and Power, told Guerin. Same goes for the million in nearby Las Virgenes’s Reservoir #2, which you may recognize from this other hit video:

Those guys have been such a smashing success, both virally and anti-virally, that their caretaker, Dave Pedersen, gave one a face and named it Wilson. Nothing like shade ball fame to make you feel like Tom Hanks.

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.