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Some Augusta-area parents prefer to have others handle birthday celebrations

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As soon as Marie McMahon saw the Rolling Video Games truck and trailer at a gas station, she knew it would be her 7-year-old son Drew’s next birthday party.

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Children play video games inside of Rolling Video Games, a mobile video game theater, during a birthday party.  JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
Children play video games inside of Rolling Video Games, a mobile video game theater, during a birthday party.

“I chased after it, yelling,” she said with a laugh.

Rolling Video Games is a sound-proof trailer equipped with four flat-screen televisions hooked up to game controllers and sound equipment that seats 16 people. McMahon said the idea of a giant video game party was the perfect thing for Drew’s birthday.

“His life is video games, and all his friends love them, too,” she said. “It’s a lot better than them running around in the house.”

Brene Gowen, who owns the Augusta-area Rolling Video Games franchise, said parents often tell him the idea of a soundproofed area that just drives away after the party is over is a dream come true.

“The parents love it, and it’s a lot of fun,” he said.

Rolling Video Games parties start at $199 for one hour. McMahon said she puts a lot of thought into birthday parties, so she was prepared to spend a bit of money.

“Look at his face right now and see how much fun he’s having,” she said. “That’s worth it to me.”

Laura Simmons, the owner of Tea With a Dutchess tea room and party planning company in Augusta, said most of her customers come with a vision that they need help actualizing. She has five party packages, ranging from Breakfast at Tiffany’s to fairy princess, but no two parties are ever alike.

“My customers know what they want, but they don’t know how to make it happen,” she said. “They come to us because they want someone who can take all of their ideas and bring them to life.”

Parties through Tea With a Dutchess start at $250 for eight girls, but Simmons said they have thrown parties that cost thousands of dollars.

“Everything we do, we do at a very high level,” she said. “My customers know they’re going to get high quality.”

Tea With a Dutchess began as just a party-planning company, but as Simmons and her staff gave more and more little girls their dream parties, they wanted to come back just for an afternoon. Now the company operates as a tearoom during the week and holds parties almost nonstop from Friday through Sunday.

Throwing beautiful parties is something Simmons enjoys, and she said the creativity and experience her staff can offer makes all the difference in the world. Parents are busy, but Simmons said that shouldn’t get in the way of a happy birthday. She said Tea With a Dutchess has had to do very little advertising, and most of their customers were guests at a party in the past and wanted one for themselves.

“I really put my heart and soul into it, and if I’m going to do something, I go all the way,” she said. “We treat the girls like royalty, and they feel like a million bucks.”

For kids who want less princesses and more playtime, Jump City offers party packages at their indoor playplace that has inflatables, slides and an obstacle course in addition to outdoor rentals. Parties begin at $240 for 15 kids. Co-owner Candy Shaffer said paying someone else to throw a birthday party allows parents to enjoy their child’s party.

“When you have it at your house, you’re having to feed everyone, entertain everyone, and you really don’t get to see what your child is enjoying,” she said. “When parents come here, they actually get to spend their child’s birthday with them.”

Jump City also allows kids to expend energy in a safe environment designed to take hard knocks, without breaking anything at home.

“It’s exercise, but kids think it’s fun and exciting,” Shaffer said. “It’s a win-win.”


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