Might as well jump

Teresa DeSimone has three children, ages 2, 5 and 7. So it comes as no surprise that, since the new Pump It Up party facility opened in Oakdale Nov. 12, DeSimone has twice enlisted its services to entertain her active children and their equally energetic friends.

After all, what parent hasn’t wished there was a place, other than their home, where their kids could literally bounce off the walls?

“For kids to be able to come in and burn off some steam is fantastic,” says DeSimone, who invited her 7-year-old’s entire kindergarten class to the new 10,000 square foot facility for a birthday party recently. “For a parent, it was wonderful because everything’s taken care of.”

That is certainly one of owner Kelly McGowan’s objectives in operating the party headquarters that features two arenas with giant inflatable play structures for bouncing, sliding, climbing, jumping and tumbling. After opening her first branch of the national franchise in Eden Prairie about a year before, McGowan decided to expand to the East Metro by moving in to a new building at 7045 6th St., just north of the intersection of Interstates 94 and 694.

“I think parents are looking for a good alternative not only for parties, but for fun activities for their kids,” says McGowan, who offers a variety of party or just playtime options. “It’s a great indoor activity that’s a huge energy release for kids.”

But doesn’t all that jumping and bouncing equal a safety hazard? Not with the care that Pump It Up’s staff takes in educating kids and parents about risks by requiring visitors to first view a brief safety video before playing. McGowan says all the equipment is anchored down securely for extra precaution.

Particularly this time of year in Minnesota, year-long indoor activities can be appealing to parents looking to entertain a group of lively kids on winter break. This is why McGowan has started a “Cabin Fever” special where groups can simply come in and jump for $99 per hour (for up to 15 kids) without the rest of the party amenities.

“Around the holidays we see daycare providers that want to do that,” McGowan says.

The facility also hosts Pop In Playtime on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 to 11:30 a.m. for parents who simply want to stop by and give their children some exercise for an hour-and-a-half (there are no “drop-offs”, however, says McGowan).

Nevertheless, birthday celebrations tend to be the main event at the inflatable haven, with prices ranging from $99 up to $255 for a two-hour event.

The average birthday party goes something like this: up to 25 young partygoers, all of whom may have received invitations to the celebration provided by Pump It Up, entertain themselves in one of the large arenas for about an hour-and-a-half while two employees supervise the action, occasionally getting involved in the fun.

“At one point, (the trained staff) started a little game with the kids and had them doing a race,” DeSimone says of one of her experiences. “It was sort of like having little party-planners keeping the kids occupied.”

Meanwhile, parents (the host parent is at least required to stay during the party) can relax in a separate room just for them until it is time for the entire group to move into a special party room where the birthday boy or girl can sit on an inflatable throne to open presents, and cake and food is provided. Best of all, according to DeSimone, clean-up responsibilities go to Pump It Up employees.

In fact, adults are certainly welcome to do more than just relax at Pump It Up. McGowan says she has entertained for college age “kids” and beyond with theme parties, group outings or businesses looking to do some teambuilding and perhaps relieve some stress.

Even DeSimone says she has taken off her shoes and ventured into the arena, allegedly only for her youngest child’s sake.

“I’ve been on the slides,” she explains. “My 2-year-old likes me to go with him.”

But perhaps even parents need some walls to bounce off of every once in a while.

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