Have you heard about Caine's Arcade yet?

If your answer was yes, you may continue. If your answer was no, I must ask you to watch this video first (no one will judge you if you cry a little):








All right, now that we're all on the same page, let me tell you about my Saturday.

When I first watched the above video, I started out inspired and ended up weeping happily. To recap, nine-year-old arcade enthusiast Caine Monroy spent last summer hanging out at his dad's auto parts shop in east LA, and to pass the time, he started creating his own arcade games out of the cardboard boxes that were piled up in the back room. He soon created an entire arcade in the room next to his dad's office. There was only one problem: he didn't have any customers. One day, filmmaker Nirvan Mullick pulled up in front of the shop to buy a part for his car. He saw the arcade, became Caine's first official customer, and decided to make a short film about it. The rest is internet phenomenon history.

I first heard about Caine's Arcade five days ago when I saw the video on one of the blogs I follow. I watched it, did the aforementioned weeping, and posted the video on my Facebook wall. Almost everyone who watched it said they cried too and were super inspired. I figured that would be the last I'd hear of it; what I didn't realize is that Caine and his cardboard arcade were blowing up all over the internet. I started hearing news stories about it, both local and national, and the Caine's Arcade Facebook Group that I was following started posting updates about the amount of money people were donating to Caine's Arcade Scholarship fund, which was set up to help Caine go to college and to get the best education possible in the meantime. The first time I saw the amount in the fund, it was at about $50,000; within a day it jumped up to $100,000, and it kept growing and growing.

Caine's Arcade is only open from 8-5 on Saturdays and by appointment on Sundays, since Caine goes to school during the week. This past Saturday was the first time it was open since it became an internet phenomenon, and I knew I had to be there. A large crowd was expected (when we were there, about 200 people were present), especially because a block party had been organized, with snacks and swag and music, and I wanted to be a part of it. This is just another example of reasons I am lucky to live in Los Angeles!

I ended up going with Toby and our friends Cameron and Sarah. We showed up, paid for parking at an auto shop next door, and joined the long queue of people already snaking down the sidewalk.




caine's arcade


The line was moving slowly, so Sarah and I journeyed up to the arcade itself to snap some photos while Toby and Cam stayed back and held our place. We passed kids and their parents, couples, teenagers, and even a dog dressed wearing a Caine's Arcade t-shirt.



caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade


It was one of those pockets of time and space where everyone was happy, courteous, and content to just be patiently standing on a sidewalk and chatting with their neighbors. Everyone was all smiles and laughter; not a crabby soul in sight. How could there be, with so much inspiration and collective positivity floating around?

The arcade itself was absolutely adorable. Sarah and I bought a few fun passes and some coins for Toby and Cam (the line was just for the people waiting to play the actual games), and we even got a close up of Caine, though he was no stranger to anyone; for most of the day, he could be seen weaving through the line, selling fun passes and posing for pictures with his new fans. He seemed shy and embarrassed from all of the attention, but he maintained a very businesslike composure, taking money and directing people through the arcade, cracking a smile every now and again if someone made a joke.




caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade
caine's arcade
The chair that Caine sat in for all of those days, waiting for customers
caine's arcade
caine's arcade
Caine himself!
caine's arcade
Sarah and me with our fun passes!
caine's arcade
Cam got to get his picture taken with Caine =]
caine's arcade
Toby and his arcade game coins
caine's arcade
caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade


Around two o'clock, while Caine was busy out front, Nirvan, followed by a group of reporters and fans, went out to the lot next to the shop and took out a giant cardboard check made out to Caine. He filled out the most current amount in the Scholarship Fund (at the time it was $152,262.02 - currently it is at $160,309.57 and growing), let people take pictures, and then brought the check out to the front to hold a little press conference and present the money to Caine, who had no idea it was coming.

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade


caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade


During the press conference, Nirvan seemed incredibly blown away and grateful. He said the experience reminded him that people are good; people want to give and are looking for reasons to give, and want to find hope in stories like this. He also announced that in order to help more kids like Caine, the Goldhirsh Foundation is going to match donations to Caine's Scholarship Fund dollar-for-dollar (up to $250,000) to help build the Caine's Arcade Foundation, which "will help find, foster, and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in young kids." How effing cool is that? Now, not only is Caine's life changed, but other creative, inspiring kids will be able to see their dreams and educations funded as well.

After the press conference ended, Juli Crockett, who wrote the theme song for Caine's Arcade that you heard at the end of the video, gave a performance with her band, and everyone gathered together in front of the arcade for a group picture (I made a breakthrough in my camerawoman tentativeness and ran out into the middle of the street with the rest of the reporters and photographers to snap a few shots of the scene myself - woohoo bravery!). 

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade

caine's arcade


The whole experience was extremely fulfilling. I got the dimple aches from smiling so much, and I felt like anything was possible. It's true: people are good. I left east LA a couple of fun passes richer, filled with hope and happiness and excited to look through my photos and write this blog post. Go Team Caine!

caine's arcade


For more information about Caine's Arcade, Nirvan Mullick, and how you can get involved, visit these sites:

http://cainesarcade.com/
https://www.facebook.com/cainesarcade
http://nirvan.com/
http://cainesarcade.bandcamp.com/

Happy day!

caine's arcade