Black balloons are tied to the columns of Borough Hall in New Milford for the day, serving as a dark reminder of the many lives lost to drug addiction, and raising awareness of the opioid epidemic.

Black balloons are also available for borough residents to grab and display on their own property.

It's all part of Black Balloon Day, a campaign picking up steam nationally and worldwide that shines a light on the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.

"This is something we wanted to do just to spread awareness — the first time we're actually officially recognizing it," said Mayor Michael Putrino, who's reading a proclamation at 11 a.m. Friday to mark the event.

The day lands each year on March 6, the day a Massachusetts father of four died of an overdose in 2015.

Preliminary numbers from the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General point to more than 3,000 overdose deaths in 2019.

"I think people are talking about it more and I think that's the important thing," Putrino said.

Putrino said attention on Black Balloon Day has been growing in his area. Some towns may provide balloons to residents, while others may just encourage residents to use the hashtag #BlackBalloonDay on social media.

The Balloon Council, based in Trenton, advises residents to dispose of balloons properly — do not release them into the air.

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