Families scrambled Friday to make other arrangements for inflatable rides at weekend birthday parties after two companies that are under investigation by the city of Wichita called them at the last minute and cancelled.
The juggling came shortly after The Eagle published a story that Moonwalks for Fun and Pure Entertainment were being investigated for possible ordinance violations.
My daughter had her heart set on going out there because her cousin had her party out there with inflatables about nine months ago, said Kasey Young, who had planned to celebrate her daughter Adisons fourth birthday at Pure Entertainment in west Wichita. They offered to let us have a party there without inflatables for half off.
We told them, No way.
The Youngs were able to land a Sunday reservation with another venue in Andover.
The two companies troubles stretch back to 2010, when a 5-year-old boy died after he fell from an inflatable provided by Moonwalks for Fun at Pure Entertainment.
Moonwalks for Fun had its license to provide inflatables inside the city limits revoked for two years in June 2011 because of a five-month gap in liability coverage. But the company apparently has continued to rent inflatables to Wichita residents.
The city is also looking into which company is providing inflatables to Pure Entertainment, an events venue near Tyler and Kellogg that is affiliated with Moonwalks for Fun.
Both companies are owned by Duane Zogleman and run on a day-to-day basis by his son, Jesse Zogleman. Neither returned calls from The Eagle on Friday. Repeated calls to both businesses also went unanswered.
Pure Entertainment is allowed to have inflatables at its site, but the rides must be provided by a company licensed to operate in Wichita.
Thirteen companies are licensed by the city to provide and operate inflatables in Wichita, but only five of those actually rent out the rides. All five of those companies have told The Eagle they dont provide inflatables to Pure Entertainment.
Jesse Zogleman recently applied for a city license to provide inflatables under the company name of Jesse Zogleman Enterprises. The application is being reviewed by the citys law department.
Meanwhile, the city remains mum on its investigation of the two companies.
In an e-mailed response, Chief Deputy City Attorney Sharon Dickgrafe said the city takes this matter seriously and that the investigation is ongoing.
Im not at liberty to discuss the review of these issues at this time, she said.
Duane Zogleman has denied having inflatables at Pure Entertainment.
How can they say that? asked Frank Pribyl, who said his family used the inflatables at Pure Entertainment during an open-bounce session on Feb. 4 and the next day while attending a Super Bowl party at the site. Ive been out there and seen them.
Duane Zogleman told The Eagle on Thursday that Moonwalks for Fun was obeying the rules and was renting inflatables only for events outside the city limits.
But a check with two of the five licensed companies found that they had received nearly a dozen calls by midmorning Friday from Wichitans wanting to rent inflatables for parties at their homes this weekend after Moonwalks for Fun had called them earlier in the day to cancel.
Pepper Sims said she had arranged for Moonwalks for Fun to bring a princess castle inflatable to her sons house near Tyler and 21st Street for her twin granddaughters sixth birthday party today. Shortly after 8 a.m. Friday, she said she received a cancellation call from a woman at Moonwalks.
She said the city was dragging their feet in getting their license renewed, Sims said. I was upset.
Sims called back later and asked to speak to Jesse Zogleman but said she was told he was in Arizona and that the company was closed because everyone was in a staff meeting.
I dont believe anything anymore from them, Sims said. I was upset, but Im happy now.
And so will be the 40 guests coming to the party. Sims was able to book an inflatable with another company for today.
Today was to be the fourth year Moonwalks had provided an inflatable for the birthday party of Haley Buschs oldest daughter, Lauren. But she said she also received a cancellation call from a woman with the company on Friday, telling her Moonwalks wouldnt be able to make it for Laurens seventh birthday.
She said she wasnt sure what was going on, that there were legal issues, Busch said. I was in a state of panic.
The 20 children coming to the party will be bouncing anyway. Busch found another company to bring an inflatable to her home near West Street and 17th.
But shes still angry.
After four years, youre going to lie to one of your customers? Busch said. Be up front and say we have license issues, even tell us its been revoked, but dont lie to me.
Girl Scouts may look for alternatives
The Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland has plans to hold a celebration party on June 9 at Pure Entertainment to honor 335 girls who sold at least 500 boxes of cookies this year. As of midafternoon Friday, the Girl Scouts hadnt been contacted by Pure Entertainment, communications director Muriel Berry said.
But we are aware of the situation and are looking at alternatives for holding our celebration elsewhere, Berry said. Or if this one works out, thats great.
The Youngs, whose daughter was set to have her birthday party today at Pure Entertainment, said they received a voicemail from the company about 9 p.m. Thursday saying the party couldnt include inflatables. The Eagles story about the investigation was put on its website, Kansas.com, shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday.
That came after my wife had several conversations with them earlier in the day about the party, whether we wanted to have soda and things like that, Young said. Everything was a go. We knew there would be inflatables there.
Then we get this message that due to licensing problems with the city of Wichita, they couldnt do it. They said the city hadnt renewed their license. There is some funny business going on at Pure Entertainment.
Not everyone who had their parties canceled was angry at the companies.
Carrie Cardinell said she had scheduled Moonwalks for Fun to bring an inflatable to her home in south Wichita today for her daughters third birthday, but she received a cancellation call about 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Only reason I thought about Moonwalks was because my daughter loves to jump up and down, Cardinell said. They were really friendly and upbeat. They arent bad people.
Agreements with both companies state deposits are nonrefundable. But some of the families said they were told by the companies they would get their deposit money back.
Well see what happens, said Young, who put down a deposit of $110.50.