The Clewiston News

Bounce houses allowed back at city parks

The city commission chambers were packed as commissioners voted to allow bounce houses back onto city property.

“I think bounce houses are very popular, I support them and I support the parks being used. There’s no doubt. I’m not in the business of closing these bounce house companies, but policies need to be set,” said Commissioner Julio Rodriguez at Monday night’s commission meeting.

The final chapter of the bounce house saga came to a close on Monday, Aug. 17, as commissioners voted in favor of keeping inflatables alive on city property, with some stipulations.

Once the agenda item neared, Commissioner Sherida Ridgdill made a motion to allow bounce houses and water slides on city property at designated parks throughout Clewiston, including Sweetest Town Playground Gazebos 2 and 4, Sugar Festival Field, City Commons Park (west of the catholic church/east tennis courts), civic park, youth center, Trinidad Park and various areas in Sugarland Sports Complex.

Commissioner Kristine Petersen seconded the motion and with discussion, it was decided that Civic Park should be stricken from the approved list. Commissioners agreed that Civic Park should be an area of reflection, since it houses the city’s war memorials, and should not be a site used for private parties.

The motion was amended and commissioners voted 5-0 in favor of allowing bounce houses at the designated city parks, thereby removing the 30 day ban put in place at last month’s meeting.

The motion also established an approved vendors list, required vendors to provide $1-million of general liability at minimum, and list the city of Clewiston and its agents as additional insured. The motion also required any individual, company or organization utilizing a public park or facility for an event to sign a hold harmless agreement.

The motion also banned the use of water slides should a water conservation measurement be in effect, such as during drought conditions.

The battle for bounce houses was long-fought for residents and local businesses, who have actively voiced their opinions since the use of inflatables was limited roughly 30 days ago.

Luis Vallejo, who owns Busy Bee Party Rentals, was at the forefront of the fight, citing at Monday’s commission meeting that he lost roughly $3,000 per month since inflatables were banned from all parks save Sugarland Sports Complex. But Vallejo iterated he was against the ban not only from a business perspective, but as a citizen who uses the parks for his own children’s birthday parties.

Vallejo helped quell the commission’s fears about monster water slides and flying inflatables at its workshop on Thursday, Aug. 13, walking the board through the steps he takes to secure each inflatable, the equipment used, and the training he has gone through to become certified.

Vallejo further soothed the commission’s anxiety on Monday when he explained that any water slide over 18 feet high is manned at all times during the four-hour renting period, with one staff member at the top and one staff member at the bottom.

There are still some issues the commission needs to work out concerning the use of inflatables on city property, namely, fees to be charged for the use of city electricity and water.

Commissioners don’t want tax payers to incur the cost of electricity used to inflate inflatables or water used to wet water slides. They will decide after discussion at a future workshop how much to charge vendors for those fees.

After the meeting, Mr. Vallejo told The Clewiston News he was happy with the commission’s decision. He said he had worried after previous meetings that inflatables would be banned for good.

Vallejo, like other local vendors, including Sweet Town Party Rentals, are especially happy with the commission’s decision to establish an approved vendors list. They said such a list would prevent individuals who are not qualified to set up inflatables from doing so, at least at public parks.

“Safety is our first priority,” said Vallejo.