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New contraption gives kids lots of bounce for their buck



Published: Mon, September 3, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Kids are head over heels for the ride.

By MARALINE KUBIK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CANFIELD -- Flying high in the sky. Flipping heels over head. Kids are crazy about a new contraption that brings out their wild sides.

"She just has a blast on it," said Tom Nentwick of Canfield as he watches his 11-year-old daughter, Jackie, soar 15 feet into the air and somersault three times before bouncing off an air-filled, power-assisted trampoline and soaring back into the air.

This is Jackie's third time on Gravity Storm, a new attraction at the Canfield Fair that allows anyone up to 180 pounds to bounce -- with the help of bungee cords and giant air cushions -- to unfathomable heights. Those who are brave enough somersault and back flip on the way down.

Jackie was a bit hesitant at first, but after three turns, she's a daredevil.

Her friend, Carlene Koken, 12, of Canfield, isn't so daring. She watched as Jackie took her first turn. After listening to Jackie talk for two days about how much fun it was, Koken worked up the nerve to give it a try.

She didn't jump as high or flip as much, but she had a good time. "I was scared," she admitted, "but it's neat 'cause you could do flips."

Before the fair ends, both girls expect to give Gravity Storm another try.

Kyle Beight, 12, of Parma, had a great time. He comes to the Canfield Fair every year but has never done anything like this before.

"It's fun 'cause you can do flips and jump really high," he said, sweat pouring from his brow after three minutes of nonstop flipping and bouncing.

Prototype: Gravity Storm is just 4-weeks-old and is the prototype for a machine set to go into production at Gorham Fabrications, Okeechobee, Fla., later this month.

Contraptions such as this have been around for a few years and are popular at beaches, amusement parks and fairs on the coast, said Kale Gorham, president of Gorham Fabrications.

The machines cost $35,000 each, and Gorham said he's already sold three, one to a fair director in Fayetteville, N.C., one to a man in Ohio, and another to a customer in Puerto Rico.

"This is something everybody in the family can enjoy," he said. Rides on Gravity Storm cost $5 each.

Quad Power Jump: Rides on a similar contraption, the Quad Power Jump, also at the fair this year, are also $5 and can accommodate riders up to 189 pounds. Its owners have been setting it up at fairs since February, said Ellen Bishop of Fairdale, Ken. She sells tickets for the Quad Power Jump and checks the weight of riders.

Bishop has tried it herself; she describes the experience as "exhilarating." She's overheard teen-agers refer to the attraction as "sweet."

Quad Power Jump is on Green Drive near the southwest corner of the fairgrounds, Gravity Storm is on Beaver Drive west of the grandstand.

kubik@vindy.com




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