Monday, September 19, 2016

If these balls could talk

Not my CEC, but you get the picture
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter
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First, take your mind out of the gutter. This post is not about those balls. This is a kid friendly post about Chuck E. Cheese's. I worked at the pizza place during most of my college years. I've written about a few experiences there and actually developed a following among CEC fans. So to throw them a shout out, I'm blogging about the mysterious ball crawl or ball pit. 

The ball crawl as you probably know is a large enclosure filled with hundreds (maybe thousands) of colored balls. Kids under a certain height take pleasure in playing in this pit. The balls are thrown about, swam through and jumped upon for hours on end. As you can imagine with hundreds of kids cycling through the pit each week germs and other gross things are sure to follow. Yes, kids pee in the ball pit. 

Having a ball
To fight the funk, the ball pit and the balls it held were cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. After closing some of us were left to collect each and every ball and put them into a net bag. The deformed or broken balls were tossed into the trash. Those bags were loaded onto a truck and taken to the car wash. The balls were then power washed and left to drip dry over night.

While the power washing was happening other employees stayed at the restaurant and scrubbed the insides of the empty pit. A bleach and water solution was used on the floor, slide and tubes that were a part of the attraction. During this process, we would find all sorts of things. The most frequent find was mismatched socks. There would be game tokens, coins, toys and candy as well. On a rare occasion, a dollar bill or two would be recovered. We employed the "finders keepers" mentality on these late nights. The next morning the crew coming in would refill the pit and take note if more balls needed to be ordered to maximize the young guests' experience. 

So now you know what goes in to making the ball pit a magical place for those who jumped into it. These attractions are becoming more rare in large part because of the sanitary issues involved.

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