A longtime roller coaster fan has celebrated his 5,000th ride on a western Pennsylvania coaster over the holiday weekend — and he did it with close to triple-digit rides in a single day.
Vic Kleman, 82, celebrated the milestone Sunday on the Jack Rabbit at Kennywood in the Pittsburgh suburb of West Mifflin. He also set a personal record of 95 rides in a single day in honor of the roller coaster's 95th birthday this season.
"I feel great!" Kleman, a retired general manager of a wholesale grocery firm and a local actor, said in a statement after the eight hour, 24 minute marathon. "I made sure to move my legs throughout the day to keep from getting stiff after sitting so long."
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In 2010, Kleman also said he felt "great" after notching his 4,000th ride on the wooden coaster, which dates back to 1920 and has an 85-foot double-dip drop. He rode the coaster 90 times that day and rode it 80 times to mark his own 80th birthday.
Kleman said he's been riding the world's fifth-oldest coaster since 1959, when he moved to Pittsburgh, and on that first ride friends tricked him into taking his eyes off the track just before the cars plummeted in order to heighten his vertigo.
"We laughed so hard as we came out we were falling all over each other," Kleman said. "I thought, OK, well, maybe I'll ride some more."
Throughout the day Sunday, Kleman was joined in his cart by fellow coaster aficionados, friends and park staffers.
"The people on all the different rides seemed to make it go faster, when everyone around you is so joyful," he said. "I felt pretty good afterward. Of course, there's no telling how I'll feel tomorrow morning."
Kleman said he drank and ate very little to prepare for the feat, since he hoped to ride without stopping for even a bathroom break. Friends from the American Coaster Enthusiasts offered him water between rides.
Kennywood spokesman Nick Paradise said he began riding at 10:53 a.m. Sunday and ended at 7:17 p.m. Sunday — and didn't leave his seat once. After that, he walked off under his power, although using his cane.
Kleman offers one tip for fellow coaster lovers: he always chooses the fifth seat in the train, maintaining that it offers a smoother ride in the middle away from the wheels.
"If you're gonna ride over the wheels for a length of time, you're gonna hurt," Kleman said.
But even after so many rides, he still raises his arms every time the cars crest a hill and whoops while going into the free fall.
"It's still fun. That's all I'm doing it for, is the fun. It's great for Kennywood, and I love Kennywood," he said.