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Seniors take spins on river

August 22, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Thelma Barney, 88, has a surprise for her children: She overcame her fear of water and cruised the Potomac River on a personal watercraft.

She was one of about a dozen Williamsport Retirement Village Assisted Living residents to take a ride on the river Thursday.

Barney wanted to go, she said, "for excitement and to surprise my kids. I'm afraid of water. They won't believe it."

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Barney said she always has been afraid of water, and before Thursday had never been out in a boat or any type of watercraft.

Williamsport Retirement Village employees helped her aboard a three-seat personal watercraft. In the process, she said, "I get to hug two guys."

She sat behind the driver and her feet were not in the water.

"It was good. It was exciting," Barney said when she returned to the dock at Dam No. 4 a few minutes later.

When they started out, she thought she would be scared, but she was not, she said. And, she said, she would do it again.

This was about the fifth year the retirement village has taken a group of residents out on the water aboard personal watercraft, Regional Administrator Tim Berry said.

The trips are part of a quest to find new activities for residents while breaking cultural stereotypes about the types of activities senior citizens engage in, he said.

One of the first to go on the watercraft after lunch was Clyde Huntsberry, 98, who was wearing gray dress slacks, a long-sleeved dress shirt, a red hat and clip-on sunglasses. He put on a safety vest, took off his socks and shoes and said he was ready to go.

"It was great," he said after the ride. "I feel like I am 29. It is a good experience."

As Irvin Clingen, 80, was helped onto the watercraft, he sat down next to retirement village employee Deb Schyllander, who was driving. "Oh! I thought you were going to hug me!" he told her.

Afterward, he said he loved the ride. "I just like the thrill," he said.

"I think it is terrific," Ann Getsinger said after taking a trip.

She said she had been concerned about how fast the driver might make the watercraft go, but she needn't have worried.

"He was very slow and I appreciated it," she said.

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