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Octogenarian parasailer throws caution to wind

Grove enjoys view of Ocean City from the air

Grove enjoys view of Ocean City from the air

October 29, 2009|By MARIE GILBERT

For vacationers who have seen the sights of Ocean City, Md., from along the beach or boardwalk, Veronica Grove suggests another option.

Try the view from 800 feet in the air.

Last summer, Grove threw caution to the wind and went parasailing.

Not only was it one of her favorite experiences, it was the perfect way to celebrate her 85th birthday, the Hagerstown resident said.

With the attitude of an adventure seeker, Grove said she always is willing to try something new.

So when several of her children had gone parasailing during a family vacation, she wanted to join in on the fun.

"Anything they do, I'll do," she said.

Grove said she was given a choice of how high she would like to fly, ranging from 400 to 800 feet.

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"Naturally, I went for the top," she said.

From the time she was strapped into a safety harness to the gradual ascent above the water under a colorful parachute, Grove said there never was a moment when she was afraid.

"In fact, the view was so beautiful, I didn't want to come down," she said. "It was even more beautiful because it was sunset."

There also was a bonus.

"When the people who took us up realized it was my birthday and that I was 85 years old, they didn't charge me," she said.

Grove, who now is 86, said people often are surprised when she tells them she went parasailing.

"They'll ask me if I was scared. I'm afraid of going out and walking by myself at night. I worry about safety. But I don't worry about having fun," she said.

Grove grew up in Baltimore County and spent a great deal of time at her family's waterfront summer home, where there were canoes and speedboats. She remembers trying to water ski, "but I fell off. Even as a child, I wanted to try my hand at everything."

In addition to parasailing, Grove said she has ridden the rapids in the Dakotas, gone rafting at Harpers Ferry, W.Va., climbed Old Rag Mountain in Virginia and enjoyed the view from atop the Empire State Building.

Following her husband's death, she and a friend traveled across the United States, except for the New England states, which she said they visited the next year.

"I've traveled to Alaska, Hawaii and Canada and I love going to Broadway shows," she said. "I always loved to travel. Not so much anymore. But I've really been lucky. I've led a pretty interesting life."

Grove said she lives with her son, Craig, "who is special population," and has other family members who live nearby.

"I have grandchildren and great-grandchildren who keep me young," she said. "I miss my husband and wish I could have grown old with him. But I feel I am quite blessed."

Grove said the family already is talking about next summer's vacation.

"We'll be heading back to Ocean City," she said. "And I'll be going parasailing. When I'm 90, I'll still go parasailing."

"People tell me, 'no, no, I could never do something like that,'" Grove said. "I tell them you don't know what you're missing."

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