By Ethan Paquet
SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – Shoppers and mall walkers are not the only things you see maneuvering through the concourse at County Fair Mall these days. Stuffed animals on wheels, being riden by children and adults, are provided by a new service set up last weekend inside the mall.
John Manning says people of all ages have paid to ride Stuffy Rides at his new mall location.
“We’ve got 11 animals. A 10-minute ride is $8, that’s a flat rate of 80 cents a minute. People stay longer, and when they do, the rate goes down to 50 cents.”
They are operated by a wheelchair motor and a 12-volt car battery. It is controlled by a button and steered like a bicycle. Before people are allowed to ride, they are taught how to safely drive them around the mall and avoid hitting people.
“The big rule is not to enter any stores.”
Other rules include no racing, erratic driving, cellphones or standing on the animals. Violators will immediately be kicked off the ride and will be charged a $20 fine.
The vehicles, which Manning says are like big pillows, are also made to be safe for riders.
“If they take their finger off the button and put their feet down, they can stop it immediately.”
With a 400-pound weight limit, parents are able to join their children on the ride.
“The smaller children who can’t reach the floor with their feet but can still reach the sidebar, they can ride by themselves, but we put it at a lower speed.”
The Stuffy Rides will be at the Summerside shopping centre until the end of April, but if it continues to draw customers, it may stick around longer.