NEW PORT RICHEY — Explosions could be heard coming from the small meeting room at the Pasco County Regency Park Branch Library. Streaking rubber rockets of red, blue and yellow flew through air—balloons let lose before knots could be tied. Laughter signaled there was quite a party going on.

Inside the room, a dozen participants of a balloon twisting class were trying their hand at the art of making balloon animals. It was just one of many activities held weekly at the branch.

Naomi Love is the instructor. And from where does her balloon bona fides spring? Love is a former clown — really.

“I was a Red Cross clown for 20 years,” she said proudly. He former buffoonery involved performing at fundraising parties and other events designed to raise money for the worldwide emergency relief organization.

The balloon arts a first for the library, she was surprised by the turnout. Student twisters started out with the basic snake but progressed to a more sophisticated mosquito.

“I guess a lot of people want to learn,” she said. “I imagine a lot want to learn for kids and grandkids at birthday parties and such.”

That’s exactly what Betty Stoick of New Port Richey had in mind when she came to the free class, which also included free balloons and the use of a handy pump that spared her having to blow them up herself.

“My 3-year-old granddaughter was all excited to hear I was going to learn this,” she said. “I can’t wait to show her.”

Stoick’s husband, Ron, is a substitute teacher. He only came to the balloon twisting class because his wife twisted his arm. After making a decent snake and a fine mosquito, however, he thinks the skill might come in handy when he has a class of younger children.

Valencia Pounders, also of New Port Richey, is a regular at the crafting classes offered at the library. She was having a blast with the balloons.

“The class is awesome,” she said. “I love all the classes at the Regency branch.”

Based on the inaugural class, Love said, it looks like balloon twisting will continue at the library. This class was held at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday, but those interested should check the branch schedule for future sessions.