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Inflatable FunStuf to do in Fitchburg

Time:2019-02-05 23:37Shoes websites Click:

Fitchburg Inflatable FunStuf

Maddie Perla, 6, of Leominster, leaps across inflated obstacles at FunStuf, an indoor amusement park that opened Saturday in Fitchburg on Water Street.

Maddie Perla, 6, of Leominster, leaps across inflated obstacles at FunStuf, an indoor amusement park that opened Saturday in Fitchburg on Water Street. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE photos /JOHN LOVE

Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

By Scott Shurtleff

sshurtleff@nashoba valleyvoice.com

FITCHBURG -- The name says it all. FunStuf opened its doors to the public Saturday and crowds bounced in from all over central Massachusetts to slide, hop and climb on the massive inflated structures of the indoor amusement park at 791 Water St. Sometimes, inflation is a good thing.

The nine colossal rubber attractions feature tunnels, ladders, orbs, slides and a slew of challenges for children from ages 2-17. All of the implements were custom designed by co-owner Ethan Deslauriers with two significant signature features; they fit into the 8,000-square-foot arena with plenty of space between and around them.

Hunter Contois, 12, from New Hampshire, was all smiles as he played around during his visit to FunStuf on Saturday.Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can

Hunter Contois, 12, from New Hampshire, was all smiles as he played around during his visit to FunStuf on Saturday.

Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

And, they are decorated with two central themes; a camouflage room and a hazmat room.

Deslauriers and partner Francis Dower, long-time manager at the legendary Whalom Park, know as much about fun as they do about equipment. Formerly known as Fun Stuff, the company's primary specialty is equipment rental for large-scale events and backyard festivals. After years in Lunenburg, they moved to Fitchburg with eyes on expanding the rental operations.

"The rental business is seasonal," said Deslauriers. "From April through October we are very busy but had nothing during the off-season. So, we developed a business plan that would allow for year-round clientele."

They signed a 10-year lease in March 2018 and in less than a year business was hopping.

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"We've had to deal with nearly every board in town from City Council on down, to get this permitted," said Dower. "The building was zoned 'light industrial' so we had to get that changed first. The city, at every step, has been extremely cooperative. They understand that a successful business is good for the neighborhood. And, by extension, good for the city. Even the mayor came out yesterday to check it out."

The rental area is still as robust as ever, occupying an adjacent 3,000-square-foot space, where customers can rent, among other things, bouncy houses.

Sofia Gates, 10, from Leominster, tries out a game in which you have to move a ball down a line by only using air to move and catch it.Sentinel and

Sofia Gates, 10, from Leominster, tries out a game in which you have to move a ball down a line by only using air to move and catch it.

Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

The fluctuating roster of employees -- as many as 30 during peak season -- perform myriad tasks both in delivery and set-up of rental gear, and inside the new carnival.

Promoted mostly through sharing of the company's Facebook page over the past months, the doors officially opened Saturday at 11 a.m. By 11:30, a line had formed at the check-in counter and children were weaving through slaloms and winding through serpentines. The highlight of the lobby area is a giant floor-piano that plays notes when stepped on. Check-in is quick and easy, providing each child with a plastic bracelet that allows for two hours of adventure.

Parents, too, find value in the enterprise. Friends Terry Panameno, of Gardner and Carly Gould, of Worcester, were among the first paying customers ($15 per child for two hours). "We wanted to get together and talk, while our children stay occupied," said Gould.

"They can burn off a lot energy while having fun," said Panameno. But the real critics that the owners needed to impress were the experts.

"I like that you can jump and bounce around," said 8-year-old Gould. Sister Mary, 5, agrees. "I really like the slides."

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