By Carley Dangona
AGAWAM – "Taking the plunge" had a new meaning for six couples at the grand opening of Bonzai Pipelines, the new attraction of Six Flags New England's (SFNE) Hurricane Harbor.
SFNE kicked off the grand opening of Bonzai Pipelines June 13 with six grooms splashing into the arms of their brides.
Bugs Bunny himself picked Barbara and Matt Herchuck as winners of a two-day, three-night stay at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. The package also included $100 toward dinner for two.
Six audience members, who caught the brides' bouquets, were awarded the same MGM prize.
Matt described his ride down the pipeline as "intense." Barbara said the couple had just wed a few weeks ago. Their daughter Kinsley looked on as her dad went down the slide.
The 75-foot tall complex features six 257-foot waterslides that patrons are dropped into by the DrenalineDrop hatch, reaching speeds up to 40 mph. There are three levels of intensity – orange, yellow and white – that vary in steepness and travel time. Parkgoers up to seven feet tall can enjoy the ride, according to Jennifer McGrath, SFNE communications manager.
While this reporter didn't take the plunge, I did manage to sucker my stepbrother Ryan into doing so. A video team at the park strapped a camera to him and down he went.
He chose the orange slide, which is the most intense of the three levels. Despite the fact that the actual trip down the pipeline lasted 4.1-seconds, the effects were visible.
He sat momentarily dazed at the end of the slide with a "What just happened?" look on his face. Even so, he said that he would absolutely take the plunge again, adding that the rush was worth it.
View the video of his ride at www.facebook.com/ReminderPublications. And, yes he screams like a "tween-age" girl at a One Direction concert.
"We're absolutely elated. This is a huge inaugural event for us," McGrath said, adding that even the pouring rain couldn't dampen her excitement.
"This ride is an amazing ride. It's more than just a slide," John Winkler, SFNE president, said.
He explained that he and fellow SFNE employees are privy to riding prototypes at conventions such as the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions exposition. He rode Bonzai Pipelines before it was added to the Agawam location. "We get the fun jobs. Somebody has to do it. It's not a boring job," Winkler said.
Mayor Richard Cohen attended the event and said, "I think it's fantastic what SFNE does for our community, for what they do for the region and the Commonwealth as a whole."
He continued, "They do a fantastic job. They are the number one attraction in the Commonwealth. They provide family entertainment. What more could anyone ask for? I'm proud to have them as one of our good neighbors."
City Councilor George Bitzas added, "I'm very happy to see this park grow and get better, attracting more people. It's good for the town of Agawam because it's one of the largest taxpayers and that helps us keeps taxes lower [for residents]. I wish them luck."