'Coach' provides bounce houses, help to community
OLDSMAR - You can't find a bigger kid than Coach Carlson. Technically, his first name is not "Coach," it's Scott, but if you ask around, most people don't know his real name. He is simply Coach and he's perfectly happy with it. Carlson, a former high school football coach, owns his own business, which he uses to entertain at parties and other special events. He has two bounce houses that have been booked all over the Tampa Bay area. At a recent highly publicized event in Oldsmar, Carlson was one of the first ones in the parking lot, loading up his bounce house for kids attending a special day at the Oldsmar Learning Experience. It was raining, then it started to pour, but Carlson stayed outside blowing up the bounce house that would barely be used because of the wet weather.Carlson, who used to teach his players to hit with the force of a speeding bus, simply loves kids. He owns almost everything that can be inflated and works at kids parties all over the region, much of it in Hillsborough County. He dedicates his spare time, not that there is much of it, to schools throughout the region. He donates his equipment to schools, recreation centers, and even offers carnival games and food markets. If there is an event involving kids anywhere in the Hillsborough County area, there's a good chance that one of the biggest kids in Tampa Bay has a big part in it. He got his start years ago. He was popular among kids and started working for other companies, renting items and setting them up on site. Then he realized he could do it better all by himself. "I just started purchasing everything that was the same as what I was renting," Carlson said. "I started my own business and it worked. I am not really in it for the money. I just love doing it." He works a lot of nonprofit events and sees a lot less money than he deserves, but he has no complaints. "I want to give back to the community," Carlson said. "I do this full time. When I am not doing this for fun, I work as a camp counselor. It's busy, but it's fun." Carlson has a three-car garage and the bounce houses and his traveling trailer take up most of the space. He keeps busy year-round, but the sessions at the Tampa Bay Downs in January through March are especially busy. Every other weekend during that period he runs either a Family Fun Day or a Family Fiesta Day - whatever it takes to keep the kids happy. He's about to get really busy again. Schools all over Hillsborough County are excited about back to school bashes and Carlson handles as many as he can. It's a busy life, but Coach wouldn't have it any other way. "I give back to the community and work with kids,'' Carlson said. "What could be better?" Scott Carlson can be reached at (727) 243-4765.
Column: A trip down the Apalachicola shows a natural river fighting for its life in a war over water