When nine-year-old Caine Monroy spent his summer vacation building an elaborate arcade out of cardboard boxes found in his father's used auto parts store, it was the sort of project that typically would have been remained a cute tale told at family gatherings.
But then filmmaker Nirvan Mullick stopped by the east Los Angeles shop. He was looking for a door handle for his car, but was captivated by the world Caine had created -- and quickly became the first customer of Caine's arcade.
Impressed with the elaborate setup, Mullick got permission from Caine's father to make a short documentary about the arcade. But shortly after he began shooting, Mullick learned that he was the only customer, something he thought was an injustice to the creativity on display.
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Mullick organized a surprise flash mob to randomly show up at Caine's arcade. Suddenly, news crews were outside the shop and people were calling from around the world.
The film captures Caine's reaction when he sees the mob — and it's both amazing and adorable.
The heartwarming story doesn't end there, though. A CainesArcade website includes a section where people can donate to a college fund for Caine via PayPal. That fund has already topped $10,000.
[UPDATE: Make that $90,000 and counting!]
The arcade itself is truly a work of genius. It includes a claw machine he dreamed up using a hook and string and a security system to ensure people don't use fake passes. He's even figured out how to dispense tickets by manually feeding them through a slot in the machine.
Los Angelinos can still visit the arcade, which is open every Saturday from 8am-5pm. A buck will buy you a pass good for four games, but $2.00 nets you a "Fun Pass" good for 500 plays. We think it's worth it.