On The shore — 01 September 2012
Earth-moving for the fun of it

Bradenton business turns earth moving into big-kid play

How many of us stuck in seemingly endless construction projects on major interstates here haven’t glanced out the window at the workers and their heavy equipment and thought, “that looks like fun’’? A lot more fun than sitting in traffic.

Alisa and Jason Bennett, of People at Play in Bradenton, are now offering adults the opportunity to operate earth-moving equipment in a 21-acre sandbox just for fun.

Owners of an excavation and utility construction company, the Bennetts got the idea during a downturn a few years ago when they hosted a barbecue and equipment play session for civil engineers to drum up business. It was such a hit, the couple realized the potential for putting their machinery to use during off times.

Now on many Saturdays, pre-registered participants report to the People at Play site 50 miles south of Tampa to dig, scoop and bulldoze. Every session begins with a video orientation and training with an OSHA-certified instructor. Then fledgling crew members hit the dirt.

Packages begin at $155 (plus tax) for a one-hour experience on a skid-steer loader (Bobcat) and go up to the six-hour Superintendent package at $1,575, which includes operating a skid-steer loader, excavator and bulldozer and maneuvering through an obstacle course plus a “hearty boxed lunch.” The Bennetts also offer team-building programs for groups up to 12 people – an activity that threatens to bury the corporate ropes course outing.

People at Play, www.comeplayinthedirt.com, 941-756-0886.

-— Elizabeth Rahe



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