Big Bounce looking to virtual events amid COVID-19 crisis

Friday, March 20, 2020
Big Bounce Fun House Rentals owner Susan Lorimer puts away one of the company’s inflatables during a busy weekend in April 2019.
Courtesy photo

This is part of a series of articles on how local businesses are currently coping with the coronavirus and its related issues.

What happens to an event rental company when events come to a screeching halt?

Greencastle-based Big Bounce Fun House rentals is dealing with that reality right now in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company won’t have the same sort of April this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One source of business could be the use of inflatable movie screens (below) to create drive-in theaters.
Courtesy photo

“We are stopped. We are completely stopped,” owner Susan Lorimer said Friday. “We are an event rental company.”

If the rest of us thought the numbers came hard and fast at us, imagine being in the event business.

No gatherings larger than 250 people.

A fire eater entertains the crowd at a Greencastle Second Saturday event in 2018 while nearby kids enjoy a bounce castle. Both forms of entertainment were provided by Big Bounce Fun House Rentals, a local business that is scrambling to find new forms of revenue in these days of social isolation.
Banner Graphic/Jared Jernagan

No gatherings larger than 50.

No gatherings larger than 10.

For a company that specializes in serving large gatherings, it’s been a rough couple of weeks.

“Things are canceling, pretty much all the way to the beginning of May,” Lorimer said.

This is understandable when a business specializes in things such as bounce houses and other inflatables, outdoor movies, concession rentals, wedding rentals, tables and chairs, iceless ice skating, tattoos and face painting, crafts, entertainers, animals and character appearances among others. They all center on gatherings of people.

However, just as other businesses and organizations are discovering, there are ways to gather virtually.

“We are trying to put in place some virtual events that will be able to bring people together,” Lorimer said.

These include events such as virtual live character drawings, trivia, animal shows, comedy shows and bingo, among other possibilities.

And should a school or church or other entity choose to utilize these new resources, it won’t simply be a bunch of kids in remote places tuned in to what amounts to live TV. It can and will be interactive.

“They will be able to see their friends,” Lorimer said. “The performer will be able to say, ‘Hey the girl with the purple hair,’ and virtually bring them on stage.”

Big Bounce is also currently promoting virtual Easter Bunny appearances.

“Right now, that’s how we’re trying to stay afloat and trying to come up with other ideas,” Lorimer said.

All the same, the physical side of the job has all but come to a stop for the time being.

“None of our vehicles are moving. We have laid off all of our staff,” Lorimer said. “It’s just me in the office.”

Even this shows some small signs of promise. Lorimer said that while cancellations have been the norm, she did get a recent call for a bounce house at a daycare.

There may also be some promise for drive-in movies — through the use of inflatable outdoor movie screens — to make a comeback.

“Those are going to be more popular,” Lorimer said. “We bring them to you. You sit in your car and we tell you what station to tune in to.”

Big Bounce has also changed its policy regarding cancellations and postponements, with the understanding that circumstances are beyond people’s control.

The full list of current steps is available to customers at

Lorimer noted, though, that “back to normal” may take a little longer even if in a month or two, small gatherings are no longer discouraged. Small gatherings don’t equate to the fair and festivals that are Big Bounce’s bread and butter.

“Even when we get the U.S. back and going, we’re hoping that they still don’t say ‘no gatherings more than 50 people, no gatherings more than 200 people,’” Lorimer said.

At this point, though, Lorimer is still planning for the future and encouraging customers to do the same.

“We still encouraged people to plan their events -- plan, plan, plan,” Lorimer said.

Big Bounce Fun House Rentals can be reached at 800-586-7866.

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