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Tuesday, June 27, 2017
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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Fort Wayne Parks' homemade bubble machine a big hit with kids

Children attending the Farmin' Fun Day Camp play in the soap bubbles Tuesday made by the bubble machine created by Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department staff for use at summer camps and youth programs. (By Kevin Kilbane of The News-Sentinel)
Children attending the Farmin' Fun Day Camp play in the soap bubbles Tuesday made by the bubble machine created by Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department staff for use at summer camps and youth programs. (By Kevin Kilbane of The News-Sentinel)
Soap bubbles pile up on the heads of children playing in the bubble machine Tuesday at the Farmin' Fun Day Camp at Salomon Farm Park. Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department staff created the bubble machine to add some new fun to children's summer camp and neighborhood programs. (By Kevin Kilbane of The News-Sentinel)
Soap bubbles pile up on the heads of children playing in the bubble machine Tuesday at the Farmin' Fun Day Camp at Salomon Farm Park. Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department staff created the bubble machine to add some new fun to children's summer camp and neighborhood programs. (By Kevin Kilbane of The News-Sentinel)
Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department Maintenance Technician Kevin Richardson designed and built the department's new bubble machine, left, using old parts and equipment they had on hand. (By Kevin Kilbane of The News-Sentinel)
Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department Maintenance Technician Kevin Richardson designed and built the department's new bubble machine, left, using old parts and equipment they had on hand. (By Kevin Kilbane of The News-Sentinel)
Children jump into the pile of bubbles produced by the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department's bubble machine Tuesday at the Farmin' Fun Day Camp at Salomon Farm  Park. (By Kevin Kilbane of The News-Sentinel)
Children jump into the pile of bubbles produced by the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department's bubble machine Tuesday at the Farmin' Fun Day Camp at Salomon Farm Park. (By Kevin Kilbane of The News-Sentinel)
Wind whips bubbles into the air while children play in front of the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department's new bubble machine Tuesday at the Farmin' Fun Day Camp at Salomon Farm Park. (By Kevin Kilbane of The News-Sentinel)
Wind whips bubbles into the air while children play in front of the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department's new bubble machine Tuesday at the Farmin' Fun Day Camp at Salomon Farm Park. (By Kevin Kilbane of The News-Sentinel)
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

The machine creates a pile of soap bubbles for children to play in at camps, neighborhood programs.

Thursday, June 15, 2017 12:01 am

Moments after staff turned on the bubble machine, a stream of tiny white bubbles poured from the spout and a group of summer camp kids rushed into the growing pile of white foam.

A brief downpour and winds that whipped chunks of bubbles into the air like blizzard only added to the fun Tuesday afternoon at the Farmin' Fun Day Camp at Salomon Farm Park.

"Best day ever!" one boy, who was covered in white foam, yelled as he waded out of the pile of bubbles.

Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department staff first saw a bubble machine in action while attending the Indiana Parks and Recreation Northern District meeting in May 2016 in Bluffton, said Chuck Reddinger, the local parks department's deputy director of recreation.

He and Steve McDaniel, the parks department's deputy director of asset management, both thought parks staff could make a bubble machine and that it would be a fun addition for youngsters in park programs, Reddinger said.

Last fall, they gave the idea to maintenance technician Kevin Richardson, who began working on the project when he had down time from his normal job duties, said Dennis Hamilton, parks department supervisor of facilities and trades.

Hamilton isn't sure how much it cost to build the bubble machine because they just used old parts and pieces of equipment they had laying around, such as pumps, blower motors and a small trailer with a water tank.

"It took a little bit of trial and error," Hamilton said of figuring out the final design.

The machine uses four gallons of blue Dawn dishwashing soap per 150 gallons of water, and then can pump out bubbles for a few hours, said Kellie Adkins, parks department manager of outdoor recreation. The Dawn soap is safe for children to play in and also safe for the environment, Adkins added.

For the safety of children, they set up the machine in a grassy area, and youngsters also must wear shoes while playing in the bubbles.

The bubble machine made its debut Tuesday morning at farm camp Salomon Farm Park, and a different group of campers got to play in the bubbles Tuesday afternoon, Adkins said. The camp will have the machine Tuesdays and Wednesdays so all of the approximately 100 campers ages 4-17 will have a chance to play in it.

On other days, the bubble maker will go to other parks department summer camps and neighborhood programs, she said.

It works out really well at the farm camp, Adkins said, because camp counselors lead their groups on a creek walk before going to the bubble machine. After playing in the soap bubbles and then getting rinsed off with water from a hose, campers don't go home full of dirt and smelling of creek water.

"The kids smell good when they are done," she said, grinning.

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