Holden Connolly has always enjoyed making people laugh. As a kid, he was designated as the clown of his family—a family that included 6 siblings and 68 first cousins. Today, Connolly is a college student and strives to become a physician and work with terminally ill children.
In his spare time, though, Connolly anchors a team of costumed heroes and pop-culture icons: Batman, Spider-Man, Darth Vader, Winnie the Pooh, and Sleeping Beauty, just to name a few. These characters are dispatched to parties across the Salt Lake Valley. There, they infuse celebrations with extra shots of wonder, whether it's Connolly behind the mask or one of his talented team members. But these characters conduct more than just formal appearances—they also lead guests through fun activities such as face painting, magic tricks, and tug of war, emphatically carrying out a duty that Connolly began as a child himself.
The passionate trio of guides at Open Water Fishing isn't content to compete with the swarms of amateur anglers vying for fish on the state's most popular waters. Instead, the team takes heed of their motto, "the fishing is best where fewest go." To that end, they gather up bait, tackle, and eager patrons at their home base in Provo and travel to five less-trodden rivers throughout Utah. During excursions, they'll show fishermen of all levels how to snare wild cutthroat trout on Upper Fish Creek, brown trout at Diamond Fork, or rainbow trout on Strawberry River. The guides practice catch-and-release, frowning upon the more popular catch-and-send-as-a-jury-duty-stand-in. They also provide snacks and drinks on every trip.
For runners at the starting line of Run13, LLC's signature half-marathons, 10Ks, and 5Ks, it's all downhill from there. The organization plots many of its events on a breezy downhill route, giving beginning runners a leg up on their first race and experienced runners a better shot at a personal record. But runners aren't the only ones that benefit. The Racing Cane 10K, 5K, and 1K benefits children in the Dominican Republic's impoverished cane-shack communities, using shoe collections and race registrations to help them break out of the cycle of poverty. And for every race, the organization designates a charity to donate its proceeds to, often taking suggestions from its fans or the magic 8 ball that presides over all affairs.
Side-by-side rectangular trampolines, a colorful climbing wall, and a faux-rock formation all serve as launch pads at Lowes Xtreme Air Sports. A short bounce or drop away lie pits filled with cushy blocks of blue foam, ready to break the fall of anyone brave enough to take the plunge. The colorful arena arose as an offshoot of owner Beverly Lowe's previous business Power Tumbling, where demand for free play on the trampolines outgrew the location's size. They also have a trapeze and a cheer floor, and coming in January 2014, an area for ninja parkour.
Featured in half-time shows and performances in Rock Canyon park, the staff of YORB Nation seeks to share with the masses its secret weapon: the Yorb. This giant, clear, inflated ball has an opening for two adults to slip inside and roll about with the help of gravity or friends to push them around. Hoses, which are included in each rental, can be used to fill the Yorb with water for an added splash.
Owned and operated by its guides, Runoff River Adventures has attracted some of the best river navigators in the business. Each guide has personally traversed more than 200 rivers, whose collective currents criss-cross countries across the world. The aquatic experts wield this experience as they guide kayaking and rafting expeditions down courses that can pass through roiling rapids or stick to calmer areas, such as goldfish bowls. Instructors also helm paddling and rafting courses, which focus on oar work and the art of the lake roll and river roll. Once they have mastered the basics, adventurers can confidently sally forth for self-guided tours in inflatable or non-inflatable kayaks, rafts, and innertubes that function as both flotation devices and very large headbands.