Bourbon County has things for kids to do outside in the warmer months. They can take their pups to the dog park, kayak across Stoner Creek or admire the horses at Claiborne Farm.
But about 50 third-graders from Paris Elementary School think the town needs more to do when the weather turns cold. And they know what they want: a video game arcade.
The third-graders were learning about engineering design in Nicole Jones’ class, and there was a discussion about what kids do for fun during winter. They cited Monkey Joe’s and GattiTown in Lexington as fun places to go.
They couldn’t think of such a fun place, but they agreed that an indoor arcade would be a blast. So, using their imaginations and a lot of cardboard, they built an arcade at school. In early March, they set it up and invited the community and local media to see it.
The idea caught the attention of arcade fan Shane Munson, who saw a news story about the kids and their project.
He and his friend Mark Hooks, another arcade fan, talked about the arcade effort and decided to get involved.
Munson has a business degree from Georgetown College, and his previous business experience includes owning a college planning business in Northern Kentucky. He works for a educational adviser for Talent Search, a program used to help high school kids go to college.
Also, Munson and Hooks repair old arcade cabinets as a hobby and have 20 that they hope will be used in the arcade. Munson said he got into collecting and repairing arcade cabinets through auctions.
“If you’ve seen the show ‘American Pickers,’ it’s pretty much like that,” he said.
After getting in contact with the third-grade teachers, the men started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the arcade. Its goal is $12,000. A little more than $1,500 had been raised by Tuesday. The money will go toward renovating the arcade space, although an exact location for the arcade hasn’t been decided, Munson said.
“Most of the buildings in downtown Paris are really old, and they’re going to need a lot of work,” he said, about the possibility of the business being in downtown Paris on Main Street.
Some of the money will also be used to buy a few arcade games, Munson said, and the arcade would contain games such as “Street Fighter,” “Mortal Kombat” and “NBA Jam.”
The students also have helped promote the Kickstarter page, filming a commercial to bring attention to the arcade.
“We have to go all the way to Lexington to have an arcade, but if we made something here, we wouldn’t have to travel long ways,” Aliyah Williams, a third-grader at Paris Elementary, wrote on the Kickstarter page.
The students also have contacted to the city of Paris to raise awareness about the arcade, and Paris city manager Daron Jordan has been working with Munson to help make the idea come to life.
Jones said her students have been asking how to get other recreational areas established, such as a bowling alley.
“We started this with, ‘What do you guys do in your community?’” Jones said. “They realized they didn’t have anything, and then they grew it into this plan.”