And served decorated (and often themed) slices of cake—I remember the Batman cake, the baseball cake (filled with little player figures), and the princess cake.
However, party venues, especially bowling alleys, sometimes offered their own catering (usually pizza), which was generally fairly decent priced. The exception was a cardboard-like slice of Chuck E. Cheese. Leslie and I both remembered it as terrifying, but the 5-year-old didn’t seem to notice.
Leslie described the scene there as “chaotic”, but the kids generally enjoyed all the raucous animatronic activity…our daughter, Olivia, held up better, When I asked her recently if she was scared of Chuck E., she replied,
She was more into playing games and winning prize tickets. “Once you collect enough tickets, you can choose your toy,” she said.
Olivia also enjoyed the ride, saying, “The ball pit was fun. You could bury yourself in a plastic ball and nobody could see you.
I shudder now that those balls could have been everything, but it was a simpler time.
Olivia’s older brother Bill also did the ball pit thing along with sliding down different tubes and slides when he had his first birthday party at the McDonald’s playground in Sandy Springs.
Other birthday party venues in his first few years of school were at the Midtown Bowl and SciTrek, a children’s science and technology museum that was once next door to the Atlanta Civic Center.
For Olivia’s craft-minded 6th birthday, we rented the activity room at the nearby YWCA. “I remember she played with pinning a donkey’s tail,” she said. And we made a crown to wear. ‘ She also remembers the pink Barbie her plate used to serve pizza and Princess her cake.
One of young Bill’s most memorable parties was his eighth party at Challenges, a video arcade in North DeKalb Mall. Partygoers were given a series of long tickets that they could use to play many classic arcade video games. A few game arcade employees thankfully helped the kids play games, but I mostly tried not to lose anyone.
Our son recalls Challenge as “a pretty legendary spot” and a great party venue. “Arcade video games were a big deal back then.”
After the game, the Challenges crew served pizza and Coke at the mall food court, and we brought a baseball-themed cake.
But even more popular were parties at rented neighborhood pools.
Olivia’s birthday was in March, so we couldn’t have the outdoor pool party, but we did couple at the Decatur-DeKalb Family YMCA. She said it was special to have her party at the pool “when it was still winter.”
As for our son’s pool party, I grilled hot dogs with my dad because there was a grill next to our covered picnic table. These grilled dogs included a vegetarian dog from the late 90’s because there was a person. This has proven to be part of the challenge for grill masters. Otherwise.
(At a school function where similar non-meat wieners were served, a fellow parent asked, “What do you put on your vegetarian dog?” !” he replied.)
As Olivia got older, fewer children tended to attend parties. I chose a pot, painted it, and glazed it. A week later, after firing, the pot is ready.
And Olivia said, “One year my mother took me and a few friends to a movie and dinner. ), but dining at Decatur’s Raging Burrito was a hit.
Olivia celebrated her 18th birthday with a trip to Disney World with her two best friends. She had to wear a special birthday button, so she said, “All the characters and workers congratulated me on my birthday. They had lunch at a Moroccan restaurant in Epcot.”
Wondering how children’s parties have changed in the last few years, I spoke with friends who have young children.
Lauren Pangle, mother of two boys, ages 7 and 3, explained that partying is still big on the road, especially in places like Leapin’ Lizards, a popular indoor playground. But she added that “we were able to get outside” because one of her boys recently had an old-fashioned backyard party, thanks to the pandemic.
Local parks have also become more popular for outdoor parties in recent years, says another parent.
Others also said their kids recently went to a backyard party, which usually involves renting a bouncy house or some kind of inflatable water slide.My niece Caroline Bilman rented the bouncy house for my son’s 2nd birthday party.
Jamie Gumbrecht, who has two daughters, ages 7 and 4, said before the pandemic: Even Hippo Hop and Little Shop of Stories. ”
One of her daughters had her last pre-pandemic party at her ballet studio, Neighborhood Ballet.
Snacks, she said, are frequently provided by the venue. It will be like this.
Mostly, they just want sugar. “My kids suck the frosting off the cupcakes and give me the rest,” she said.
I asked if anyone still does Chuck E. Cheese, but in the last few years no one has. My niece Caroline said, “Even before COVID-19, there was too much germs.”
One thing that hasn’t changed is that while throwing a birthday party is a tall order for working parents, the kids seem to appreciate it.
I can’t wait to see what kind of party my 1 year old granddaughter will have when she grows up. Still, whatever her parents choose, I’m sure pizza will be involved.
Read birthday party memories on Bill King’s Quick Cuts blog (billkingquickcuts.wordpress.com). You can contact him at email@example.com.
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