By Carol Band
Send in the Clowns, Ponies and Moon Bounce
For some families, a party at home is an important birthday tradition. But bringing in a professional entertainer, inflatable amusements or even a cotton-candy machine can give the party a focus, enhance a theme and keep the kids entertained and away from the Tiffany lamps in the living room. In other words, when someone – or something – else provides the entertainment, it’s one less worry for you.
Climbing walls, inflatable water slides, moon bounces, paint ball, Velcro™ walls, ponies and padded sumo wrestling suits are just some of the more popular birthday party rentals. These can cost anywhere from about $100 to more than $1,000 depending on what you get, for how long and from where you get it. (Check out our advertising listings to explore your options.)
Always let parents of the children you’ve invited know what entertainment you have planned. You’ll want to know if clowns make Ashley hide under the bed or if Justin is allergic to ponies.
Before you agree to any rental, find out what exactly is provided. How long will the clown perform? How many stable hands will stay with the ponies? Who will set up and monitor the moon bounce? And ask for references; it will help to talk with other parents about the entertainer you want to hire.
Jim Quist, an underwriter for the International Specialty Events and Recreation Association, advises parents to be well-informed before setting up an attraction in the back yard.
“Most of the big rental agencies are insured,” Quist notes. “In fact, several states require that vendors carry liability insurance. But before you let anyone set up a rock wall or water slide or bring ponies onto your property, ask to see proof of their coverage.” Quist cautions that many smaller companies, including do-it-yourself rental centers, don’t have insurance. Look for a company that does.
“Your homeowner’s insurance isn’t enough,” he warns. “Rental centers also don’t provide help with setting up the equipment. That makes it doubly dangerous.”
According to Quist, many insurance policies have exclusions for trampolines, moonwalks and other amusements. “You’d have to add a general liability policy to your homeowner’s policy in order to have coverage, and many agencies just won’t touch that.”
Once the moon bounce has been deflated and the last guest has left the ball pit, it’s time to write thank-you notes. It’s a simple yet vital tradition. Teaching your child good manners is the best birthday present he or she may ever receive.
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