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Former sweepstakes finds new life as kids’ fun park

 

A former sweepstakes business on U.S. Highway 264 has found new life as a fun park for local kids.

Froggy’s Fun Park opened for business last Wednesday, replacing sweepstakes machines with fun activities like an indoor mini golf course, old-school arcade games and classic favorites like foosball, air hockey, pool and ski ball.

“We just saw that there was nowhere in town for kids to go and nothing to do,” said Fun Park owner Mark Bass. “In Williamston, all they have is a bowling alley and Extreme Action Park is the only place here. So we just figured we would give it a try and give kids somewhere to go for birthday parties and things like that.”

Bass was among a number of local business owners impacted earlier this year when District Attorney Seth Edwards issued an ultimatum that local sweepstakes owners must cease operations or face criminal penalties.

After two months in business as Sweepfrog, he was going to have to make some serious changes. With a considerable amount of money tied up in the building and business already, Bass decided to turn lemons into lemonade.

Searching North Carolina and beyond, Bass was able to find a number of old-school arcade games, ranging from skill-based games like basketball and ski ball to standup video arcade machines. Surrounded by the games, in the middle of the warehouse, a mini golf course stands as the centerpiece.

LET’S PLAY: While video games may appeal to some, other activities like ski ball, air hockey, pool and foosball round out the fun park’s offerings.

Bass, who has considerable experience in maintenance, built the course himself. He’s also had to learn a thing or two about how to work on the old arcade games, some of which are more than 30 years old.

“I’ve never worked on arcade games, but everything in here had to be worked on,” Bass said. “(A lot of it) had been in a warehouse since the ’90s. We spent a lot of time and a lot of money getting these things cleaned up, getting them fixed and ordering parts.”

Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, Bass remembers fondly the old-style arcades and has tried to replicate that same feel in his business. Most machines dispense tickets after each game, which can then be redeemed for small prizes before kids leave.

Almost all of the games, save the big power drainers like air hockey and basketball, only cost a quarter. None of the coin-operated games cost more than 50 cents.

“If Mama and Daddy says, ‘Here’s $10 or $20, and that’s it,’ I wanted the kids to be able to play more for their money,” Bass said.

The fun park is also equipped for with a special room for birthday parties and offers a variety of packages, each of which include a set amount of quarters for each child and one round of mini golf.

Froggy’s Fun Park is located at 6149 U.S. 264, Washington, and is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays. For more information, visit the Froggy’s Fun Park Facebook page or call 252-623-2693.