South Pasadena’s Amy’s Playground was designed for a day like today, with the sun’s intemperate temperatures forcing families to look for someplace they can take their kids to escape the blistering heat.
This would explain the crowd of young kids, moms, dads, and caregivers running around the large air-conditioned facility that is filled with play equipment, bouncing houses, giant mazes, and even slides. It would also in part explain the noise. The crowd, plus the weekly music session taking place, takes the volume to a whole new level. And that’s what you find at Amy’s Indoor Playground in South Pasadena.
Owned and operated by a South Pasadena family, Amy’s Playground first opened its doors on Mission Street in 2005 by Mom, Amy Shachory, who envisioned a place where kids and parents alike could go to get out of the heat or the rain. A clean, comfortable environment where babies, toddlers, and kids could safely explore their surroundings.
After years of serving the community, in 2016, Amy quietly handed the reigns of the playground over to Brian Potvin, a friend and business associate.
“Amy and I worked together for years, since 2009 when we first met,” said Brian.
Many around southern California may know Brian Potvin as The Ballusionist. The balloon artist has been twisting latex since 2003 and specifically in South Pasadena since 2007. His work has been seen parading down Mission Street during the annual July 4th Festival of Balloons event, even winning awards two years in a row. He has popped up in local restaurants and delighted audiences young and old at various parks and recreation events in the city. And for Amy, the original owner of Amy’s Playground, Brian was the go- to-guy for parties and events.
For Brian and his family, taking ownership of Amy’s Playground felt like a natural next step. They had worked closely for many years with Amy and the business had become a second home.
“We didn’t want this place to go away,” said Brian.
The family saw an opportunity to keep the playground going and have a storefront to introduce the balloons to a larger community. Brian often works on his larger than life balloon creations right in front at the window at Amy’s Playground.
“Often times I’ll have a crowd of these young kids just quietly watching me as I work on projects for the next job,” Brian laughed. “I’ve even had families drop in to tell me they remember me from an event or restaurant where I created something for their kids. This community has been incredibly amazing and supportive of what I do and what we do here at Amy’s.”
The quiet change in ownership at Amy’s Playground may have gone unnoticed. “It didn’t make sense to change the name when our family took over,” said Brian. “People know Amy’s Playground and we wanted to keep that familiarity.” Not only did the Potvins keep the name, but the high standards of care, cleanliness and concern for the customers that have really come to define the establishment over the years.
“We take very seriously the comfort of the families that visit us. We want you to make yourself at home and stay all day,” he said.
It’s easy to see how you could spend the better part of a day at Amy’s Playground. The 3,000-plus square foot facility is cool when it’s hot outside and dry when it’s raining. The play equipment provides ample room for running, jumping, and climbing. And the clean, carpeted, shoe-less environment even has a place for babies and toddlers, separate from the busier play area and enclosed with soft walls and age-appropriate toys to explore.
The play area is lined with big soft couches for those observing. Families are encouraged to bring in food and use the picnic area for lunch or snack time, although cold drinks and some snacks are available for purchase.
“We’ve even had families have food delivered,” laughed Brian. There is free coffee and WiFi for the adults and a small reading library and boutique.
“Our first thought is how can we make your visit most comfortable while looking out for all our visitors. If there is ever an issue or something we can help with, please let us know,” said Brian. “When I’m here I’m really hands on. I find myself playing games with the bigger kids or making sure that the little kids have their own time in the jumper, to playing referee with some of the typical kid stuff that comes up. It’s a busy place.”
With all the activity Brian and his staff make a point to be dialed in to what is going on around them. “We want everyone to come here and have a good time,” he said.
In addition to the indoor playground equipment and toys, Amy’s offers a host of different activities and events for families. From music sessions to balloons, crafts to costumes, there is always something going on at the playground. Families are encouraged to check the website regularly for updates on events and other activities. Weekends at Amy’s Playground are reserved for private or special events such as birthday parties, baptisms, mommy and me groups, and more.
With everything that Brian and his family have going on, he is constantly thinking of how to improve the experience at Amy’s. “I’d love for us to become a place where families, people, organizations can come and play, and we donate a portion of the proceeds toward a charity of their choosing. That’s something we are working on.” He also has been working tirelessly to make sure that his customers and the community know that the event and party services that they provide extend beyond Amy’s physical location. “It’s been really tough trying to get our customers to understand that Amy’s services can come to you. We do it all and we’re happy to bring our unique experience to your unique location.”
Amy’s Playground is located at 1115 Mission Street in South Pasadena, CA 91030. It is open Monday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Closed on Saturday and Sunday for private events. While the playground’s target demo is ages 5 and under there is no age cap. For more information call (626) 799-0304 or visit www.amysindoorplayground.com For more information regarding The Ballusionist visit www. Ballusionist.com.
The Amy’s Playground Business Spotlight appeared in the print edition of the South Pasadena Review on 8.17.18. Support Local Business.