Playing with ballsMarch 29, 2013
Ball and pit. The words on their own strikes dread and fear in some people…. but add in a hyphen and you’ve got yourself a party. Well I love parties, so I’m going to present you with the answers to all the questions you’ve never knew you had… about ballpits. I could say I’m revealing the seedy underbally, but that would be incredibly inappropriate and gross. I would never say that, so don’t worry.
Question 1: Where is/was the world’s biggest ball-pit?
The largest ballpit was made on 30 Dec 1999 in Wouwse Plantage, Netherlands by the Stichting Carnaval. (Carnies, it was always going to be carnies) The ballpit had a surface area of 252.9 m² with an average depth of 0.4 m and contained approximately 130,000 sweaty balls. It was open for three days and attracted 2,700 visitors in this time. There is no visual record I can find of this so I can only assume everyone’s cameras were swallowed up into the bally of the beast (or I’m terrible at googling in Dutch). Here’s an unrelated vintage photo of some synchronized swimmers ‘aving-a-laff in a ballpit.
The largest permanent ballpit I found in my research was at Fundazzle in Beijing. It makes sense that the largest ballpit in existence would be in China home as they have the most people to fit in a ballpit. You win this ’round’, China. (…right? cause its a ball!) On a sidenote, that kid has been stranded on that plastic island for so long he’s drawn a face on one of the balls and called it Wilson.
Question 2: Where is/was the world’s deepest ball pit?
There is no official record holder for the deepest ballpit but my money is on Italy’s balls. In 2008, performance artist Graziano Cecchini dropped half a million plastic balls down the Spanish Steps in Rome. Wow Graziano, you think of that all yourself? It was a ballsy move by Graziano who incited the rage of several stop owners. One guy said, “This is ballshit! I didn’t sell any gelato today.”
Question 3. Who invented the ball pit?
The first known ball pit was opened in 1976 at Sea World San Diego.It was designed by playground specialist Eric McMillan, who is often considered the “father of soft play”. (What a title. You kiss your mother with that title, Eric?)
I can’t find a verified photo of Mr McMillan so I like to picture him as half Einstein and half Mother Theresa. Mother Thereinstein. I also really dig Eric’s philosophy on adult play… “If adults played more,” McMillan is quoted by People magazine in 1979, “there would be far less fear and more understanding, because play is an open and honest exchange.”
Question 4: Who is the oldest person to enter a ball pit?
Patrick Stewart. I knew you wouldn’t believe me so here’s the visual proof.
Question 5: What is the world record for the longest continuous stint in a ball pit?
Great question, you in the back. I know that in Australia, the Crows Nest Pub near Sydney made a valiant attempt to take the record for biggest ballpit party. Despite the lack of actual bodies, there was probably someone (out of the seven people who turned up) that sunk a couple of coldies and then sunk to the bottom of the ballpit, only to be discovered 16 hours later. This is all conjecture though.
Question 6: Please tell me other ballpits of note, Camilla?
Well since you asked so nicely… There was a man called Josh Ente who in 2012 had a vision to turn an derelict, abandonned New Orleans house, damaged by Hurricane Katrina, into a giant ball pit with foam walls and no entrance fee. Basically utopia. With over 200 backers on Kickstarter, its a shame that Josh didn’t get council approval before he took people’s money. Way to kill the dreams of millions, Josh. Also thanks for not replying to my email.
In more successful news, at MIT in the US, students have converted a meditation room into a ballpit.
Probably so they can do this…
Hope you enjoyed this entry… I had a ball writing it! Here’s an adorable life-affirming, heart a-warming video from Soul Pancake which inspired this entry.