Friday, December 22, 2017

Fort Thomas Resident Brings New Family Destination to the Levee

Newport on the Levee is about to get a new destination for a family friendly day out with the opening of Jonbob Willis’ concept, Dart Rush. You may know Jon, who lives in Fort Thomas, as the photographer behind the Simple Portrait Project. While the link between Nerf battles and portrait photography may not be apparent right away, it’s definitely there: family.

“I love bringing families together and that’s really what this thing is about.”

Dart Rush is Greater Cincinnati’s first and only Nerf battle arena. It’s designed for all ages for families, friends or coworkers to play and compete together. “Everything about this is about families playing together. If you want to drop your kids and go you can and there is a lounge area for people who really don’t want to play but it’s really all about everyone playing together.”

Call Tami Wilson. 859-380-6007. 

Play is booked for one hour sessions, each one consists of a few quick games which rotate. When players come in they are split into teams, so you could be playing against the people you arrive with. Everyone wears colored vests and eye wear and enters the arena, which is almost 5000 square feet. The arena is full of obstacles and is colored black, lime and orange (“like a badass Nickelodeon set” according to Jon.)

There is a DJ and two referees overseeing the games.

Players can either bring their own Nerf blasters or rent modified blasters including standard 6 shot blasters, long range blasters and the awesomely named “Total Elimination” blasters. Dart Rush provides the darts required. The arena is padded and players compete with shoes off (socks are required.)

“The great thing is that it’s so low tech that it allows room for your imagination to take over. We leave gaps that you can fill in with your own mind.”

Jon met his partners in the venture, Andy Garrett, Mitch Kenney and Brent White, through the Danger Wheel, downhill big wheel event in OTR. While Jon had an idea, he recognized that he need some help, “I reached out to these guys because they run and manage three Cincinnati breakout rooms and do it really well. I had a vision and I knew that there were some parts I could do really well but from a marketing, business and a management of employees standpoint, I wondered if they might be interested.”

The venue, at Newport on the Levee 
The space at Newport on the Levee came about a little by chance. Jon was walking through the Levee with his wife, saw the space and gave them a call. “They’ve just been very inviting and they’ve worked with us to make it happen from day one.” Newport on the Levee haven’t been Dart Rush’s only supporters. “A lot of people have gotten behind us. Gorilla Glue has been a huge support.” When you see the artwork for Dart Rush don’t be surprised if you recognize a few faces: all of the kids in the pictures are from Fort Thomas.

While the idea of Dart Rush is very simple and low tech, Jon believes it will be a pretty unique experience. It’s the only venue of its kind locally and he believes the only other one like it is in Colorado. Despite its simplicity he believes it will definitely have Jonbob fingerprints on it: “I love taking something common and turning it in to an experience.”

If everything goes to plan Dart Rush will be open mid-January. An hour of Dart Rush costs $12. Games can be booked online and walk-ins are welcome, although subject to availability. It will be open Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays and other adult only evening may be added in future. It’s available for birthday parties, team building sessions or just a family day out. For more info see their website.

Newport on the Levee
PHOTO: Jonbob and his son, Ashton. FTM file. 

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