Six seek record on Ferris wheel by riding for 3 days straight

Thursday, June 17, 2004

EUREKA, Mo. -- Around and around they expect to go: Six people are bidding to set a world record by riding a 180-foot-high Ferris wheel for three days in a row at an amusement park in this St. Louis suburb.

The six began their quest at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Six Flags St. Louis, climbing into four gondolas on "Colossus" as part of a nod to St. Louis' holding the 1904 World's Fair.

Those tight quarters will be where they'll dine, snooze and, if necessary, fend off motion sickness until the wheel finally stops spinning as expected Friday, if they make it that long.

"I will be the last person to get off that thing," said Adam Darnell, a 31-year-old former Marine from Illinois taking three days off from work to take part.

A Six Flags spokeswoman says there's no world record for continuously riding a Ferris wheel, and Guinness World Records has set 24 hours as the benchmark. The contest's sponsors -- the park and radio station WVRV -- set the goal as three times that.

If the other six endure the 72 hours, they will be eligible for a drawing for $1,000. Darnell's plan: Donate any of his winnings to the Children's Miracle Network, in honor of his 12-year-old son with leukemia in remission.

Fellow riders Megan Crume, 26, and Heather Nitzel, 23, both of St. Louis, have raised more than $700 for Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital by soliciting pledges for each hour they ride.

Rhonda Crocker, 42, and her daughter Kelly, 12, both of Bonne Terre, Mo., say they need the money to pay bills. Tabitha Rhoads, 22, of Godfrey, Ill., hopes to spend the money on concert tickets.

Each gondola has a curtain for privacy during five-minute bathroom breaks every three hours. Riders, supplied with food and drinks, are using portable plastic toilets.

"I feel like a zoo animal," Darnell said, noting the children who keep waving at him as he glides by. "I now know what a monkey at the zoo feels like."

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