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Bounce Houses: One Giant Leap for Kidkind
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.