by Laura Weisskopf Bleill
This past week was my eldest daughter’s fourth birthday. If you know many 4-year-olds, you also know that the build-up to a birthday is pretty intense. This child had already picked out the destination for her birthday party before she was even 3-and-a-half. And then she changed her mind, after we went to two parties back-to-back that involved pools – one at the Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center and one at the LeRoy Replex (what a great facility).
So a pool party, she would have. Being that her birthday is in March, that meant finding an indoor facility. Luckily in Champaign-Urbana we have three options: the aforementioned UIAC; the CRCE pool at the University of Illinois; and the indoor pool at the Champaign County YMCA. I investigated all options, but ultimately decided that the UIAC was best for our needs. It fit our timing needs; my children still nap, and I wanted them to enjoy the party. I also wanted to avoid having it over dinner or lunch to avoid extra expense. And, I wanted a zero-depth entry for the little kids.
Having a party at the UIAC is pretty straightforward. You have a choice of doing a party during public swim or a private event during specific hours. Of course, doing a private party is more expensive, especially depending on the number of people you are expecting. To reserve a party, you must visit the Phillips Recreation Center in person to put down a $75 security deposit and pay the rental fee (in our case $125). The cost of our party included 15 pool entrances (plus three adults to supervise; more people were the standard pool entry charge per person) and the room reservation.
The party package at the UIAC gives patrons a two-hour time slot. That includes time for set up/decorating as well as clean up. Since they only provide a room with tables and chairs, I brought all the plates, napkins, tableclothes, food, cups, drinks, etc. To cut down on clean-up, I tried to stick to finger food snacks such as strawberries, cheese cubes, and vegetables with dip (mainly for the parents). I also went with a cupcake cake to avoid dealing with cutting up the cake — and the silverware thing. To keep things simple, I bought the kids drink boxes.
Here’s my key takeaways:
- One of the great things about having a pool party is that it accommodates all ages. My 8-year-old niece had just as much fun as the 3- and 4-year-olds. You don’t have to worry about the person who “leads” the party, whether or not they’ll hold the kids’ attention. Although I brought some toys for the kids, the only one who really played with them was my 1-year-old.
- One of the drawbacks to a UIAC party: You are not allowed to take photos in the pool area during public swim due to privacy concerns. I understand the rationale, but I feel bad that I wasn’t able to capture so much of the party – and the joy of the children.
- The parents weren’t so keen on the idea of getting into a bathing suit. One of the great things about the UIAC is the zero-depth entry, so parents didn’t have to get too wet if they don’t want to. But I do think that’s part of the reason so many dads were there!
In the end, it was a great party and I think everyone had fun. We are lucky to have such great options for birthday parties in our community. Happy birthday to Nessa!
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