Battle of the Businesses

New York Life team members pose for a victory photo with the inaugural Battle of the Businesses trophy.

WASILLA — Local business owners, joined by their friends and family members, exchanged cushioned blow after blow inside an inflatable jousting arena during the first Battle of the Businesses event Wednesday, Sept. 15 at Snider Park.

This annual fundraising event is designed to support Kids Kupboard, a local nonprofit organization that provides meals to local children across various Valley communities and beyond. It was a full day of free food, family fun with inflatable bounce houses, and friendly competition amongst guffawing gladiators waging wacky war with one another, some even wearing costumes to fit the part.

“The gladiators came through today,” Kids Kupboard Founder and Executive Director Lynette Ortolano said with a laugh. “In true gladiator fashion, this was an event worth seeing.”

Jousting teams were split up by business with various staff, friends, and family members who went head to head through one on one matches in an elimination bracket tournament. During each match, contestants stood inside an inflatable arena with a red and blue pillar. Participants used oversized, cushioned lances to attempt to knock one another off their respective pillars.

“It turned into this fantastic display of silliness,” Ortolano said.

Kids Kupboard team member, Riley Marshall wore a bright green pickle costume and went by the name “Princess Pickle” as she flailed around inside the bouncy battle arena.

“It was really funny,” Marshall said.

Ortolano was thrilled by the large turnout, especially for it being the first event ever. She said that Kids Kupboad was able to raise thousands of dollars, which was greatly encouraging and immensely helpful to their cause.

“You get to know who the hearts are in the community. You see them supporting so many great causes, ours included,” Ortolano said.

Ortolano said this event was the result of Kids Kupboard, Joy Fearn-Condon with New York Life, and Nicole Tousignant with Finance of America Mortgage teaming up to establish a new community activity.

“It was a really good team effort,” Ortolano said.

Ortolano said they plan to keep partnering up each year with the hope of making this event as well known and highly anticipated as established annual traditions like the Mud Volleyball Tournament in Big Lake. She noted that they plan to hold the event during the summer instead of fall next year.

“I think it could. I can envision five or six jousting setups,” Ortolano said.

Ortolano said the best part is all the good times fuel their year-round efforts feeding local children in need.

“With a lot of trash talk, good trash talk. The businesses have been uber competitive, but competitive for all the right reasons,” Ortolano said with a laugh.

For more information about Kids Kupboard, including food distribution sites and schedules, visit

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at

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