Bounce houses: Fun for all ages
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Elexis and Erik Wildanger of Oak Bluffs know all about kids parties. They have five kids of their own, and at times a foster kid joins their family. Consequently, birthday parties have been a regular feature of family life for some time now. For years the Wildangers rented bounce houses – those colorful, inflatable structures that kids can jump around in until long after you might think the novelty would have worn off.
When Jim Cage of Rose Bud Balloons discontinued the bounce house portion of his business, the Wildangers decided to buy their own. "We couldn't get any of the off-Island companies to deliver to the Vineyard," said Ms. Wildanger.
That initial purchase has turned into a small-scale business for the couple. MV Bounce Houses was launched in May 2011 as a part-time venture for the Wildangers. "It's a very laid back company," commented Ms. Wildanger. Mr. Wildanger works for the town of Edgartown. Ms. Wildanger works for the family business – John's Fish Market on State Road, Vineyard Haven.
They now have available for rental four bounce houses and a huge inflatable slide that can be used with or without water. What they've discovered is that it's not just kids who enjoy the opportunity of throwing themselves around recklessly with little fear of injury. A good portion of their business is made up of customers hosting bridal showers, wedding receptions, high school and college graduation parties, and other adult occasions. "It's really fun," explained Ms. Wildanger. "Usually, after the kids' party is over, the adults take their turns. There's absolutely no age limit."
The Wildangers have helped support a number of local organizations by either donating amusements or giving substantial discounts to organizers of fundraisers. A bounce house was set up at the American Cancer Society Relay for Life this past June. Recently, the Wilbangers provided one for the Vineyard Youth Tennis Center tournament and an Angel Flights fundraiser.
The houses are rented out by the day for $300 each. Ms. Wildanger notes that they sometimes make special arrangements for local families on a tight budget.
"We try to work with Island families," she said. "I think that any child should be able to have a bounce house for their party. Since we take in foster children, we're very aware of the circumstances of underprivileged kids."
There are four different style options – a pink castle, a spaceship, a generic one for adults, and one with an entrance shaped like a huge tiger head whose tongue is a ramp that makes for easier access for little kids. They all accommodate up to seven bouncers at a time.
The Wildangers do not require a deposit or penalize people if they cancel. The bounce houses can be set up anywhere outside within 100 feet of a power source. The Wilbangers will not set up in the rain or on a very windy day. "Kid's safety comes first," Ms. Wildanger explained.
The couple also offers face painting, balloons, and cake pops, which can be decorated appropriately for any occasion. In other words, they are party central for children's birthday celebrations. And, they can cater to just about any type of gathering. Ms. Wildanger noted that she provided a bounce house and the slide for a memorial service for a former classmate. "The whole class of '91 was there," she says. "We had the water slide, and people who definitely wouldn't have gone down it, went down it. Including me."
The couple are now exploring the possibility of finding a permanent space, preferably at the airport park, to set up an indoor, year-round fun house for kids. "There's nothing for kids to do here in the winter," said Ms. Wildanger.
On Friday, Aug. 24, a bounce house will be set up beside John's Fish Market. Kids can bounce for free when the parents buy lunch.
For more information, visit M.V. Bounce House on Facebook, or call 508-326-1155.