Leaping Lizards Family Entertainment Center?s inflatables range from rainbow-striped complexes of slides and obstacles to a wave-riding shark feasting on a boat. Youngsters?and parents, if they want?can bound across the bouncy surfaces during regular hours, or add some bounce to a birthday party, complete with pizza, drinks, and a private room. Alternatively, staffers who have undergone rigorous safety training supervise tots on Parents Night Out, a Friday-night event that replaces babysitters with bounce-house fun and gives parents an opportunity to check out the local fight club.
Despite their massive appeal with kids, it took a college professor with a love of tennis to create the first bounce house. Read on to learn more about the springy castle about to bloom in your backyard.
They?re known by many names?inflatables, bouncy castles, space walks?but bounce houses all have one thing in common: the mere sight of one sends kids flocking to jump inside. Typically composed of durable vinyl, PVC, or nylon, bounce houses can be made in an infinite array of designs. Manufacturers often sketch new models using computer-assisted design software, which translates the polygons into fabric patterns that can then be cut and sewn into a deflated mass. An electric or gas-powered blower then fills the hollow veins with air, and the completed castle springs to life.
In 1962, seven years before Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon, NASA employee John Scurlock made a giant leap of his own. While trying to invent an inflatable dome to cover his tennis court, the engineer and professor realized his students had no real interest in working on the prototype?they were having much more fun jumping on top of it. He called his accidental discovery the Space Walk, and since then, it?s evolved beyond just a bouncy cushion into a party staple for kids, adults, and homesick martians.
To ensure a great experience while renting a bounce house, it?s a good idea to first measure the space where you plan to place it, keeping in mind the number of party guests that might want to use it. As with any party rental, it?s a good idea to book in advance to get the design that best fits your party so you aren't stuck with whatever is left?inevitably the one in the shape of Richard Nixon's head.
A miniature horse, a turkey, and a llama meander near a small, wooden barn. Meanwhile, across a patch of emerald grass, children with feed buckets take turns lifting their hands to the mouths of goats and rabbits and petting the resident potbellied pig, Wilbur. All residents of Mini Meadows come in sizes large and small from horses to chickens, each of them friendly and available for petting, feeding, and giving palm readings. More than just a petting zoo, Mini Meadows also offers kids’-party facilities and a gem and fossil mining experience. With help from Mini Meadows' knowledgeable humans, kids and adults can hammer away at Moroccan geodes and take home gems that resemble rubies, emeralds, and other semiprecious stones. Alternatively, miners can use fuse their found gems into handmade necklaces that are crafted while the animals look on.
On September 1, Bristol Motor Speedway will be buried under one ton of bacon. At the first annual Tri-Cities BaconFest, the pungent pork will be served up in a multitude of ways: Visitors can snag it for free at bacon stations during three tasting times, sample it in vendors’ bacon-infused desserts and entrees, or attempt to shovel down three pounds of it to claim the title Lord of the Bacon during the Man vs. Bacon eating contest. Other swine-themed events include the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pigskin Challenge, where preregistered participants aged 5 and up test their throwing arms on an accuracy obstacle course. At the hog-calling competition, shouters stretch their lungs as they imitate the sounds of hogs and, later, the sounds of hogs imitating celebrities. The family-friendly event will donate part of its proceeds to the Bristol Speedway Children’s Charities, a nonprofit organization that raises contributions for educational, financial, social, and medical causes.
The instructors at Masterpiece Mixers Paint & Party Studio supply the canvases, paints, and brushes, requiring visitors to bring only their creativity. At studios located around Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and Massachusetts, they lead all-level painting classes that last from 90 minutes to three hours, and focus on subjects ranging from the natural, such as birds and flowers, to still-life guitars, vases, and wine bottles. In some themed sessions, instructors also teach groups to paint abstract pieces or create their own variations on famous landscape paintings that, unlike the originals, can include dinosaurs. Some sessions follow a special date-night structure. At every location, the staff members encourage visitors to bring their own wine, beer, and snacks if desired.
The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine, running 2,180 miles over mountains, rocky slopes, and deep valleys. Since it was established in 1925, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) has cared for the trail, maintaining 250,000 acres of public land. The organization educates hikers on Leave No Trace camping and why it's not a good idea to challenge a bear to a hugging contest.
Volunteers and trail crews build and repair shelters along the footpath and engage youth and community members in outdoor activities. In addition to these human-oriented services, the ATC works to protect endangered species living along the trail and to preserve the land's watershed streams and migratory corridor.
Having spent more than 24,000 hours at the controls of airborne helicopters and fixed-wing planes, Richard Cantley possesses a sure footing at any elevation. From his post within the gray T-hangar at the privately owned Johnson City Airport, the experienced pilot and flight instructor escorts first-time flyers to the skies during hands-on lessons. Whether students aspire to obtain a license of their own or just a panoramic view of Tennessee’s scenic landscape, Richard peppers each lesson with tips on how to read instruments, adhere to proper safety precautions, and swerve around zeppelins during rush hour.