WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Anyone who's ever wanted to drive a piece of construction equipment now has the chance thanks to Big Toy Playground in Williams.
The business, which opened in August 2013, allows people to operate a skid steer, backhoe, loader or excavator with some guidance from the professionals.
Larry and Sharon Fox, who own Target Equipment Rentals, came up with the idea for the business after Larry attended a John Deere large product demonstration.
"He just noticed how everybody was going nuts to get on this new equipment," Sharon said. "And it kind of gave him the idea that, 'Well gee, if these guys do this for a living, what would the regular public think about getting on one of these and that opportunity?' So that's what got the wheels turning."
The Foxes believe they are only the third business in the country that allows the general public to drive heavy equipment. They know of similar businesses in Nevada and Minnesota.
People ages 14 and older can sign up for a minimum of a 90-minute session on one of the machines.
"They don't have to have any experience whatsoever," Sharon said. "We walk them through the controls and we've got radios in the cabs and then the instructors have radios so they can tell them exactly what to do and help keep it safe and fun."
After learning the basics, customers learn how to dig, operate the bucket and arm of the machine and move tires. They may also go through an obstacle course by having to stay between cones, go over hills, and make turns.
Toward the end of the sessions, customers will have the chance to challenge themselves by using the equipment to pick up a basketball from a cone and then drop it into a barrel. Other games include dropping a water bottle into an upside down cone.
In addition to individual sessions, Big Toy Playground can also host parties and corporate events.
A few times per month, the business offers Kids Play, in which kids can watch an operator drive the equipment and then see the parked equipment up close.
Sharon said so far the response to the business has been positive.
"Anybody that we've mentioned it to, it's like their eyes kind of light up, like that sounds really fun," Sharon said.
Big Toy Playground is located at 671 S. Garland Prairie Road. More information is available at (928) 637-8808.