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Published: Saturday, August 21, 2010
Beth Cooper and her 11-year-old son, Robbie, of Richboro, Pa., parasail off the coast of Ocean City.
The family that soars together ...

Beth Cooper knew just what she wanted for her upcoming birthday - a parasailing ride with her son, Robbie.

So Beth's dad, Chuck Kane, an Ocean City summer resident, made that birthday wish come true one day recently at Ocean City Parasail. And while Beth knew what her dad was up to, the gift was a complete surprise to 11-year-old Robbie - until the family pulled up to the dock.

But parents parasailing with their kids is no shocker at all to people in the business in southern New Jersey shore towns. Joel Richard, who owns Ocean City Parasailing, figures a good 75 percent of his summer trade involves putting parents and kids in a parachute together.

Sometimes he even sends three generations of the same family up in one 'chute, Richard says - his two boats can pull as many as three people at one time, although there are weight limits. Some families, mostly multi-generational ones, rent all 12 spots on a boat for one of his 90-minute trips, he adds.

Kane, 73, the patriarch of those parasailing Coopers, says mixed generations riding in a parachute together is a tradition in his family. Grandpop himself has gone up with his three other grandsons in Ocean City, and he hopes to parasail with his only granddaughter next year - because his two other children aren't as adventurous as Beth, who celebrated her 46th birthday by parasailing with her son. But she's no rookie at this game herself, either.

"I have gone, but (Robbie) has been wanting to go for a couple of years," says Beth, a teacher who lives in Richboro, Pa., not far from her dad's winter home in Yardley, Pa.

"It's one of the things on my to-do list," Robbie confirmed, shortly before he went 450 or so feet up in the air with his mom for one of the 10- to 12-minute rides each party gets up in the Ocean City Parasailing 'chute. While they were up there, Beth reported later, one thing she and Robbie talked about was "how much he appreciated that he got to share this gift with me."

For other local operators, the percentages may be different, but the story is the same: They see plenty of parasailing pairings of parents and children.

"I've flown really young children, probably around 4 years old," says Tracy Newsam, the owner of Beach Haven Parasail on Long Beach Island for the last 20 years. "And if they're that young, I scope the parents out too. I make sure the parent would be totally aware" if something were to go wrong.

All parasailing operators understand problems can happen - although they assure their customers that since they're hooked in to both a parachute and a life jacket, they're also likely to come out fine even if they have to go down in the water, instead of sliding right back down onto the boat itself.

Still, many companies won't put children younger than age 6 or so up in air. And all boats have weight minimums along with their limits, although operators say the numbers vary depending on the wind speed.

"Some parents want to send their kids up alone, and sometimes, the adults want to go up and then send the kids up," Newsam adds. "But sometimes the two parents are too heavy and the two kids are too light."

For all that, he figures 40 percent to 50 percent of his business is parents and kids flying together - and that's actually one of the lower estimates for local operators.

Down at Atlantic Parasail in Wildwood Crest, Taylor Smithson, who runs the boat's booth, says parent-child rides are "very common. It's probably almost 100 percent of the time."

And the ages vary widely, people in the business say - one put the standard age range for young riders at anywhere from 6 to early 20s.

Back on the Ocean City Parasailing boat, 22-year-old Devin Kirby of Atco, in Camden County, said he'd tried to talk his mom into joining him - following another sort of family tradition, because his father and sister rode in a parasail together in North Carolina.

"But she wouldn't do it," said Kirby, who had to fly solo instead.

Becky Wieberg and Becky Lelli, both of Vineland and both 19, were going up in the 'chute together - and Wieberg said she could see doing the same with her mom, but her dad wouldn't try it. Lelli said the story would be reversed on her end: Her father would think it was fun, but her mother would never go.

One possible attraction for many parents, especially moms, may be that up in a parachute, the world is apparently a pretty quiet place - even next to a kid who's not always so quiet. Ask people what their strongest memory is of parasailing and the sound of the silence is one of the most common answers.

After a parasailing adventure last week, Audrey Roop reported she really enjoyed a few things, including the quiet, the beauty of Ocean City from that new vantage point and the companionship.

Roop, a visitor from Strasburg, Pa., shared the parachute with her daughter, Christine Denlinger, who also lives in Strasburg.

"It was a really fun thing ... a very calm experience," Roop said. "I have a wonderful daughter, and we love to do things together."

Her daughter, by the way, is 47 years old. And Roop herself went parasailing for the first time at 71.

So you see, when parents and their kids go parasailing together, age really doesn't matter much at all.

Contact Martin DeAngelis:

609-272-7237

MDeangelis@pressofac.com

Where to go

A selection of local parasailing operations

(Check websites for coupons and discounts; many offer discounts on the first trip of each day.)

Atlantic Parasail

Where: Two Mile Restaurant and Marina, Ocean Drive, Wildwood Crest

Info: 609-522-1869 or atlanticparasail.com

Hours: Boats depart hourly starting 8 a.m.

Price: $65 per person

Atlantic City Parasail

Where: 800 N. New Hampshire Ave., Historic Gardner's Basin

Info: 609-345-1212 or atlanticcityparasail.com

Hours: Boats depart every 90 minutes from

9 a.m. by reservation

Price: $65 per person

Bayview Marina

Where: 312 Bay Ave., Ocean City

Info: 609-399-5100 or bayviewmarina.com

Hours: Boats depart from 8 a.m. daily

Price: $60 per person

Beach Haven Parasail

Where: 2702 Long Beach Blvd., Beach Haven

Info: 609-492-0375 or bhparasail.com

Hours: Boats depart hourly from 9 a.m.

Price: $65 per person

East Coast Parasail

Where: 1121 Route 109, Utsch's Marina, Cape May

Info: 609-898-8359 or eastcoastparasail.com

Hours: 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily

Price: $70 per person

Hang Loose Parasail

Where: 1044 W. Rio Grande Ave., Wildwood (just on mainland side of bridge)

Info: 609-522-9453 or hanglooseparasail.com

Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily

Price: $70 per person

LBI Parasail

Where: Sixth Street and Barnegat Bay, Barnegat Light

Info: 609-361-6100 lbiparasail.com

Hours: Boats depart from 8 a.m. until last reservation

Price: $65 per person

Ocean City

Parasail

Where: Third Street and the Bay, Ocean City

Info: 609-399-3559 or

oceancityparasail.

com

Hours: Boats depart 8 a.m. to sunset

Price: $65 per person

Sea Isle Parasail

Where: 86th Street and the bay at Sunset Pier, Sea Isle City

Info: 609-263-5555 or seaisleparasail.com

Hours: Boats depart every 90 minutes starting 8 a.m.

Price: $70 person



 

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