NORWALK, Conn. Jerry Petrini has taken on the role of mad scientist lately. And if everything goes as planned, visitors to his My Three Sons and Cathy's Castle amusement arcade in Norwalk are going to love his new creation.
There's nothing like this, Petrini says, standing inside what eventually will be his newest birthday party attraction, Looney Ballooney. He describes the layout and how the game will be played. It's a conceptual mesh of skill and board game with the party guests as the pieces. There will be a skill game component with rolling balls for points, and moving spaces and chances for advancement, all aimed at earning more and more prize tickets for the entire party.
And of course, there will be balloons, lots of balloons. The center of the attraction will house a giant netted cage where fans will lift and swirl an array of multi-colored balloons. Participants will have to catch them and squirrel them away in the appropriate pockets around the enclosure.
Petrini invented the game, and plans to have it ready to go by September. Anyone reserving a birthday party in August will be entered in a drawing for a free game. Because of the intricacy of the game, Looney Ballooney will be available only as a reserved birthday party attraction. He chuckles and admits that designing it made him feel a bit like a mad scientist.
The game will also take up space previously used for food service seating. Petrini found that parents preferred to be closer to the counters, where they had a better view of their children, and that the room was underused. Turning it into a giant live-action board game seemed like a perfectly logical choice.
The payout for sleep lost in the design phase and hours spent constructing the game area will come when the first kids run through the mesh cage chasing balloons, laughing and having a good time. Petrini is convinced that children will love it and word of mouth will spread. Who doesn't want to get lost in a sea of balloons? he asks with a smile.
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