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You may remember seeing dunk tanks at town fairs or carnivals as a kid. The person being dunked might have been a well-known city official, school principal or other local luminary. A dunk tank might offer some retro fun to liven up your church picnic or family reunion — especially if the event is held outdoors on a warm, sunny day. A dunk tank consists of a vinyl-lined metal tank with a seat suspended above the water; when someone hits a target in front of the tank with a ball, the seat collapses and drops the seated person into the water. A barrier around the top of the tank, usually metal bars, protects the dunkee from getting hit by balls that miss the target. A typical daily rental rate for a dunk tank is $150-$250, depending on how far the rental company has to go to deliver and pick up the equipment. Some companies offer less expensive partial-day rentals.

Full- or half-day rental

As with other party rentals such as photo booths or inflatable slides, most companies that rent dunk tanks charge based on a partial- or full-day rental. Gary Muersch, owner of Dinojump.com in the greater Chicago, Illinois, area, charges $200 for 4 hours or $250 for a full day to rent a 500-gallon dunk tank. The Bouncy Store, also based in the Chicago area, rents dunk tanks for $200 a day. Glenn Johnson, owner of G’s Fun Time Party Rentals in Orlando, Florida, charges $175-$200, depending on the distance of the event location from his warehouse. Dinojump.com, The Bouncy Store and G’s Fun Time Party Rentals also rent a variety of bounce houses, slides, concessions and other equipment that can liven up an outdoor event.

Supplies

Most rental companies will provide 2-3 ordinary softballs with the dunk tank rental. If you think you will need more than that, you can purchase extras at a sporting goods store for $2-$5 each. Unlike inflatable slides and bounce houses, dunk tanks do not require electricity to run. Companies typically bring the hoses necessary to draw the water and fill the tank, but you will need access to water near the setup location to fill the tank, which can take 45-90 minutes.

Location

Rental companies may charge an additional fee to deliver a dunk tank more than 30-50 miles from the rental company’s warehouse.

Deposit

Most companies will require you to pay a deposit (typically $100 to $150 depending on the number of tanks and location) to reserve the equipment and delivery.

Liability issues

There is some risk of injury when using a dunk tank. Some companies may require that you only permit adults age 18 and older to be dunked. If you use the dunk tank at your home or on other private property, it’s wise to ensure you are covered by liability insurance in case of an injury. Reputable rental companies carry liability insurance, but the rental agreement you sign usually requires you to follow their equipment safety and operation guidelines — and may limit their liability for any injuries that occur if it is found that you did not follow them.

Setup and takedown

Dinojump.com, The Bouncy Store and G’s Fun Time Party Rentals include setup and takedown of dunk tanks and all other party rental equipment in their rental fees. Johnson says he prefers it if his team, not the event host, empties the tank at the end of the event to ensure proper drainage and removal.

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