Mega-Birthday Bashes For Kids: Parents Drop $40,000 For Toddler's Birthday

One-year-old gets a mega-birthday bash that includes a roller coaster.

ByABC News
July 21, 2011, 5:47 PM

Sept. 20, 2011— -- There was bowling, an aerialist, even a roller coaster, and still the birthday boy slept. His name was Jojo, and he was 1.

But that didn't stop his parents, Lisa Augustine and Joe Martino, of Staten Island, N.Y., from sparing no expense on Jojo's mega-birthday bash.

Augustine, after jokingly asking for a bodyguard, specified how much: "We're like $40,000 right now."

Over-the-top kids' birthday parties are nothing new. Celebrities such as Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Gwen Stefani and Angelina and Brad Pitt have been known to throw lavish parties for their children. On one episode of MTV's "My Super Sweet Sixteen," Sean "Diddy" Combs gave his son a $360,000 car.

Now, everyday parents are getting into the act of splurging on their kids' birthdays, and the kids are getting younger and younger. It's a new trend that's featured on TLC's reality-TV series "Outrageous Kid Parties," which premieres next month.

One of the show's featured honorees is 8-year-old Aniston, whose rock star party had a limo and a red carpet. Price: $29,860. Another child, Alex, 7, had a pirate-themed extravaganza costing $31,525. Six-year-old Gracie's princess fantasy came true, after her king and queen shelled out $32,304.

For Augustine and Martino, who have a successful construction business, their son Jojo's party price tag was not an issue, a fact not lost on Jojo's half-brother, Alex, 17.

"I'm a little spoiled," Alex, said. "But he's mega-spoiled. He gets whatever he wants."

Augustine hired Stacey Levy, a party planner, to make it all happen. First, they toured the venue, the vast Space Odyssey, a indoor entertainment center in Englewood, N.J. The rental cost for a day is $25,000.

When asked whether the spending was getting out of hand, Augustine said, "Oh ,yeah. … But once you start, it just snowballed into this great big event."

The immense investment of time, effort and money prompts the question, whom is the party really for?

"Well, no it's for the 1-year-old, but it's really for the family so we can all celebrate," Augustine said.

'It Might be Over the Top, But...He's Worth It'

Martino agreed: "I told [Lisa] on the way here,'Do I actually have to, how long do I have to stay with you and everyone before …'"

She said, "He wants to play, too,"

Such detail reinforces how the phenomenon is an emulation of celebrities. On "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," Taylor Armstrong threw a $60,000 party for daughter Kennedy. Drama ensued when Kennedy believed her mom was enjoying the party a little too much.

For Augustine and Martino, the idea that their lavish party is obnoxious can be trumped by their deep gratitude to have Jojo in their lives. He is their miracle baby.

Martino was born missing his right arm and with scoliosis. He has had heart surgeries and two major back surgeries. He and Augustine feared it was genetic.

When Augustine became pregnant with twins, joy quickly gave way to heartbreak. She lost both babies. Then she became pregnant again, and they braced for the worst.

"The thing I wanted the most was, I wanted him to be born with both arms and legs. Because I would've felt like, 'Oh, this is my fault,'" Martino said.

When Augustine went into labor, they got an even bigger scare. Delivery was difficult, and when he came out, he was lifeless.

"Jojo came this far, and we're going to lose him right here in front of me? I'm like, 'Oh' my God, I can't believe this is happening," Martino said.

But he soon began breathing and then started to nurse. And he had 10 fingers and 10 toes.

"Now, Jojo is a healthy, happy, growing boy who's super-intelligent and bright and just the love of our lives," Augustine said.

No wonder Augustine and Martino wanted to throw a party.

"He's my boy," Martino said. "It might be over the top, but you know what? I don't care. He's worth it."