Behind the Music: Chuck E. Cheese


After Daniel’s big party last Saturday, just the three of us went out to celebrate his birthday at Chuck E. Cheese.  We had a coupon, of course.  It was the one for the “Big Blast Pack”: a large pizza, drinks and enough tokens to keep a nine year old busy for a couple of hours.  We’ve discovered when we go on a weekday or after the peak birthday party hours, we have the place pretty much to ourselves.  Daniel doesn’t have to wait for the Skee Ball lanes to open up.  Meka brought her chemistry assignment along.  She spent most of the evening determining the proper molality of a solution.  I ended up watching Chuck E. and the Band.

I remember when my brother was young and Chuck E. Cheese first opened up in Hoffman Estates.  I was sucked into being a chaperone for one of his birthday parties in the early eighties.  Back then, the room was huge and the mood was electric.  There must have been 400 screaming kids running around with illegal concentrations of sugar in their bloodstreams.  Chuck E. Cheese sang, his band joined in harmony, live characters danced through the throngs, and the flags on the walls waved back and forth to the music.

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But like many bands from that era, the Chuck E. Cheese star has fallen from the firmament.  It’s sad when that happens.  The Rockford stage has maybe a dozen long tables out in front.  No flags, no colorful costumes.  The room was deserted.  It reminded me of the Murph and the Magictones scene in The Blues Brothers.  When we arrived, the band was playing oldies with a Chuck E. Cheese theme (instead of “Chaka Khan”, we had “Chuck E. Cheese”).  You could tell the band wasn’t having fun anymore; they were just going through the motions.  Literally.

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