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Amazing cardboard arcade makes kid a star

NEED TO KNOW
  • Imagination run wild: Boy's cardboard arcade a huge hit
  • Caine's Arcade was starved for customers until flash mob, viral vid changed everything
  • Video's success has generated more than $50,000 in donations for Caine's scholarship fund
Amazing cardboard arcade makes kid a star
caine

A boy and his business: If you go, be sure to get the Fun Pass. $2 for 500 turns. It's a pretty solid bargain.

Somewhere in East L.A. is a small used auto parts shop, run by a kind man named George.

And somewhere in the cramped garage of this auto parts shop is an elaborate cardboard shrine to childhood imagination, created by George's son Caine.

It's an unlikely creation in an equally unlikely location -- and the magnificent result is one of the most heartwarming (and just plain awesome) videos you will ever find online. And now it's also helping send its star to college.

Nine-year-old Caine has built an entire arcade in his dad's shop. By hand. By himself. Using nothing more than cardboard boxes, masking tape, leftover parts and pieces you wouldn't pay more than a nickel to purchase, and that remarkable imagination of his.

Not a single current of electricity runs through any of his games.

"My dad has a lot of boxes back there," Caine says of the auto shop. "So I cut them up and make my arcade games out of it."

"It's called Caine's Arcade. And it's open weekends only. And it's really cheap."

There's a mini-soccer game, where plastic army soldiers are taped down to create obstacles. There's a scaled-down version of Pop-a-Shot. There's even a claw machine.

Caine originally wanted to buy the pricey machine, but his dad suggested Caine build one instead. "So he got an S-Hook, put a piece of yarn on it, put a little track on top of the box," George recalls in the video. "And I said 'What… the… heck?' He figured out how to make a claw machine with a string and a hook."

But for all of Caine's inventive flourishes (old toys as prizes, pushing prize tickets through small slots on each game, a $2 'Fun Pass' good for 500 turns) much of his dad's business is done online, so foot traffic -- and customers -- were rare.

And by rare, we mean nonexistent.

"But he never gets discouraged," Geroge says.

Everything changed when Caine's first customer played a few games, fell in love with the place and created a Facebook Event to invite "all of Los Angeles" to play Caine's Arcade as part of a fun-filled flash mob.

Lucky for Caine -- and now the more than one-million people who have watched the video online -- his new friend, Nirvan Mullick, runs a creative agency and knows a thing or two about producing a fantastic film.

As the video's description says, the unsuspecting 9-year-old "is about to have the best day of his life."

But Nirvan and pals' generosity didn't end there. They helped establish a scholarship fund for Caine, as well. Forbes reports that fund now has more than $54,000 in it and a post from Tuesday on the Caine's Arcade Facebook page says the video's success led to $24,000 in donations in one day!

Or -- put another way -- enough to buy 12,000 Fun Passes.

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