Tom Fallon, South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District’s Groundskeeper, was just beginning his morning rounds on Monday near Trustland Trails when something caught his eye.
A large object was neatly wrapped in a camouflage tarp and rope behind a shed near the entrance of the trail. He wasn’t certain what it was, but he had a hunch. Wellington Day School was missing a bouncy house following a carnival fundraiser on June 3, and the size of the object seemed similar in size.
Fallon loaded it into his truck and drove straight to the school’s campus, which incidentally is located just 1,000 feet away from Trustland Trails, to show them his find.
“Sure enough, that was it,” Fallon said. “They were pretty excited.”
The school’s administrators feared the $1,500 bouncy house had been stolen.
“It was such a miracle,” Beth Itaya said, director of the school. “…Everyone is so grateful to have it back.”
“It would have been a big loss to the kids,” she added.
Itaya said it may have been an oversight that the bouncy was left outside following the carnival, but added that it was next to a building in a locked fence. Administrators discovered the bouncy house was missing when they came back to school on June 5. A message was posted on Alert Whidbey, a community Facebook page, asking that it be returned. The school was also planning to file a police report until Fallon found it.
Itaya isn’t sure exactly what led to its return, but she theorized the Facebook post had something to do with it. Whoever stole it may have come down with a case of conscience, she said. It’s unclear, she said, whether it was coincidence that it was found so close to the school.
“I don’t really know what to make of it,” Itaya said. “They had to be trying to get it back to us… it was sitting on the asphalt kind of in the open.”
Fallon said it is not uncommon to find illegally dumped items near the trails, especially over the weekend. Fallon thought whoever stole it figured they couldn’t do anything with it, or they got nervous.
“You never know what you’re going to find,” Fallon said. “It’s always an adventure out there. I’m just glad they got it back. I’m glad I could help.”