Briahna McConnell, of East Rockaway, loves being active, so when it came time for her parents to plan her 7th birthday party, they chose the Fun Bus, a gymnasium-on-wheels where kids can dance, tumble and literally jump through hoops.
Just picture a school bus, void of seats and replaced with tunnels, mats, slides, parallel bars, swings and a trampoline, where kids can jump feet-first into a large, round doughnut swing. The outside is painted a lime green color you’d only find in a bag of jelly beans.
On the day of the party, the Fun Bus rolls up to your house or any place you provide and comes equipped with an hour's worth of fitness fun for the birthday child and 14 of his/her friends, along with two trainers who act as party hosts.
"We start in the front of the bus with a 5-minute warm-up and introduction with leg shakes, arm stretches, spider crawls and more," said Fun Bus owner, Lisa Marie Meehan. "After the warm-up, the kids participate in an array of fun and cardio-boosting games."
Some of the games include "George of the Jungle," which allows kids to choose their own character from the jungle and then swing from any of the 12 different swing-stations on board. Or, "Car Wash," where each child takes a turn inside the large, padded doughnut, being rolled from the front to the back of the bus.
The good news is there are many unusual at-home party options on Long Island. From vintage tea parties to fire trucks, pets and more, here are five themed parties that are sure to be a hit among kids and adults alike.
CAPTAIN JACK'S FIRE BRIGADE
INFO 631-987-0521; captjackfire.com
BEST FOR Ages 3-12
PRICE A two-hour party begins at $350 for up to 25 children; party favors (plastic fire hats and coloring books) included.
WHAT TO EXPECT A full-sized, restored fire truck arrives at your house with lights and sirens blaring, followed by a brief talk about fire safety as the children watch and interact with owner and volunteer firefighter Jack O'Loughlin. "All of the kids are urged to try on all of the equipment, which we bring in children's sizes," said O'Loughlin. After that, children can shoot water at a simulated fire from a fire hose. The last game, "Midnight Alarm," is a relay race where children lay on cots, jump up and run through a fabric tube. The kids will then use a real fire hose from Captain Jack's truck and shoot water at their fire-safety house.
BONUS Parents are given a disk containing digital photos from the entire party, including family and group shots on the truck.
INFO 855-832-7789, tearrifictimes.com
BEST FOR Ages 5-10
PRICE Parties begin at $329 for 12 children (price includes invitations and thank-you cards)
WHAT TO EXPECT Owner Laura Halitzer brings everything you need for a vintage tea party: table linens, china tea cups, tableware, flatware, centerpieces, flavorful decaffeinated tea or lemonade and savory sweets. After sipping tea, the little "Ladies" or "Lords" will design a vintage craft, play dress-up with tiaras, gloves, purses, pearls and boas followed by an appropriately-themed story at the end of the party.
BONUS "At the end of the party, I clean up, allowing the party host to relax," said Halitzer.
INFO 516-768-4701; playhooray.com
BEST FOR Ages 1-5
PRICE An hour party begins at $250 for 20 children
WHAT TO EXPECT Kids will enjoy music and movement activities, Shake, dance and move to the beat of music. Each party includes a simple craft and the use of different instruments, such as shakers, drums, bells, balls, scarves and bubbles
BONUS Party favorite “Molly Mouse comes out of her house to start the children dancing with ribbons, clackers, hobby horses, maracas, instruments and much more,” said co-owner Laura LaMarita.
INFO 516-557-7863; animalandexpress.com
BEST FOR Ages all
PRICE A two-hour party starts at $19.95 per child
WHAT TO EXPECT The party host arrives with a variety of stuffed animals and a stuffing machine. The animals are placed into baskets and a clothing rack with outfits or a T-shirt crafting area is set up. “Partygoers choose their animal, fluff it with the machine and then they put a wishing heart in their animal before it's sealed closed,” said owner Michele Spinelli.
BONUS Everyone receives a birth certificate with the name of the new friend, an outfit and a box or backpack to bring it home in.
INFO 877-402-2386; funbuses.com/long-island
BEST FOR Ages 1-8
PRICE An hour-long party starts at $295 weekends and $195 weekdays for 15 children
WHAT TO EXPECT Children will enter bus with guidance of two trainers who will take them through a series of fun obstacle courses, which include climbing, rolling, jumping and swinging. At the end of the party, children will depart the bus using a slide at the rear exit.
BONUS The entire party is held on the Fun Bus, which means no mess and no clean-up.