WHEN you can’t rock and roll any more, you have to find another way to rock on.
Cork singer Pat Fitz, who had a busy gigging year wiped out due to Covid, is back on the road again.
With pubs closed and weddings cancelled, Pat looked outside the box to earn a crust and came up with the novel idea of Ireland’s first mobile vintage photo booth, which can double up as transport for the wedding couple/party.
“The 1987 Chevrolet van is ready for the road and open for bookings,” says Pat, of Pope’s Road, who intends to get the bride to the church on time for the most important day of her life now that things are looking up.
“We bought it a few years ago up north in Derry,” says Pat. “In the summer, we used it for own personal use for leisure.”
He also used it for his own personal use after wooing his bride Ashley, whom he married in September, 2019.
So he had a trial run with his new vehicle?
“Yes, my own wedding was the van’s first outing transporting us to to our wedding.
Was his bride impressed?
“She was, I’d say!” says Pat.
“A few years ago she gave out to me about the ’80s style interior decor, but then I was vindicated! She came round to the whole way the van was kitted out when the van became so popular!”
So, what can the lucky bride and groom expect on the ride in the Happy Times vintage photo booth?
“It’s basically a massive three-tonne 34-year- old photo booth on wheels,” says Pat. “We have a camera, a computer, a printer and a big touch screen set up inside that is built into the wood interior. I saw a similar idea in the UK, and I thought it would work well here. It’s never been done here before.”
The photo booth is a vehicle made for more than two.
“A huge group of people, more than any other conventional photo booth, can get inside and have their photo taken and walk away with their set of prints.”
Pat, who is a busy singer and a talented musician, often provides the musical entertainment for weddings, and was anxious to get the show on the road.
“The vintage photo booth gave my brother Kiel, who does a lot of mechanical work, a focus during lockdown,” he says. “Our dad, Michael, was enlisted as the driver. So it was a fantastic project, bringing us all together.”
Pat has his own focus as well as putting the vintage photo booth on the road.
“Since we’ve been out of work for so long, I’m just trying to be there; better than ever for when things get back to normal.
The van is professionally kitted out with a massive silent generator and its own PA system. Companies can hire it for events and the vehicle can be used either as a photo booth or as a DJ booth.
Pat is happy to be rocking and rolling on the road again.
“There is loads of interest in the vintage photo booth,” he says.
“I think brides and grooms love the novelty of the vintage photo booth and they like the idea of being transported to the church or the wedding venue in style.
“We’ve multiple bookings because not only is the van a photo booth, but it can transport all the wedding party as a group together, adding to the fun element of the occasion.”
Refreshments are provided for the happy couple and party.
“Champagne and Prosecco are provided for the bridal party en route to the wedding reception,” says Pat. “We have beer available too, if anyone fancies that.”
A bit of razzmatazz is always good to get into celebratory mood.
“I’m over the moon that the van is proving to be such a success,” says Pat, who travelled for years up and down the country playing gigs.
“The entertainment business was a no-go during the pandemic, so coming up with this business idea that has proved to be such a great a success is ideal. It kept us occupied when we had no other work.”
The posh cream and beige 1987 Chevrolet project was a family affair and a labour of love between the three men.
“My dad and my brother, Kiel, had a big part in getting the vintage photo booth on the road and dad feels very important driving our clients to events.”
The interior of the van is decked out in unique retro ’80s style.
"There are swish curtains on the windows and a soft, shaggy carpet on the floor. It's pretty neat."
The van is motoring well and the bridal couples feel laidback, relaxing on the plush couch, enjoying the ride.
“With weddings on the back burner and the celebrations being more low key, it’s nice that couples can still have the choice to travel in style with their nearest and dearest and enjoy the journey on the special occasion of their wedding day,” says Pat. “They can sit back, relax and enjoy.”
The bridal couple feel like movie stars.
“We like making them feel special,” says Pat.
How does he feel about getting back on the road again himself soon, rocking and rolling?
“I think we are on the last leg of the necessary restrictions that the outbreak of Covid imposed on us,” says Pat.
“I can’t wait to get back singing. I’ll be so happy when that happens.”
He’s raring for the wide open road.
“The wedding bang will be back with a bang,” he says
To book the Happy Times photo booth for your wedding or event, visit happytimes.ie