BY EMILY GRAHAM

MINERSVILLE — Playtime & Parties, a children’s entertainment venue that closed during the pandemic, is reopening this weekend.

Jill Smiley, of Hegins, said she was saddened to see the business on the Pottsville-Minersville Highway was for sale earlier this year and decided to look into buying it.

In August, the sale was finalized, and she began planning for a grand reopening for Labor Day weekend.

“I brought my son here when they were open, and he loved it,” Smiley said. “I didn’t want to see it close.”

The business shut down during the pandemic and reopened in June 2020, but Smiley said it was not able to stay open long after that.

Based on feedback from Facebook when she announced the reopening, Smiley said others seemed to have missed it like she did.

“We don’t have a lot of things like this in the area,” Smiley said. “You have to drive to Tamaqua, Harrisburg or Bloomsburg.”

With the help of her second grade son, Tristen, Smiley has been getting the center ready to reopen.

Smiley said much of the center’s amenities are the same as before, such as the inflatable bounce houses, obstacle courses, basketball court and the ball pit.

She made sure to keep some fan favorites, like the Thomas the Tank Engine toy and a bubble-blowing fish named Freddie.

Smiley has been working on some updates, however, such as new antimicrobial balls for the ball pit and other efforts to enhance safety.

“I’ve been going through the toys and weeding out things that won’t work as well with the pandemic,” she said, such as toy masks and baby dolls. “I want things that are easy to clean.”

The center is equipped with hand sanitizer, and Smiley said everything will be cleaned frequently.

The capacity is currently set at 75%, and people can schedule private parties to rent the entire space if they are worried about safety, Smiley said. While it will be open to walk-ins, she said she will reconsider if it starts to get too full.

Smiley said she does not know if the state’s recent mask mandate for schools, early learning programs and day cares applies to Playtime & Parties, but she will ask visitors to wear masks anyway.

“I want people to feel safe,” Smiley said. “We’ll take it day by day and make adjustments as we need to.”