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On Six-Year-Olds And Giant Wheels · Jun 19, 04:38 PM

Should a six-year-old, no matter how tall, be allowed to ride a Giant Wheel 50 feet in the air?

Point to the parents all you wish—and I absolutely agree that there is a place for that discussion as well—but there simply must be a way to avoid incidents like this:

A 6-year-old boy fell to his death while riding a Ferris wheel at the San Joaquin County Fair in Stockton late Sunday afternoon.
Authorities say the child, who was riding alone on the “Giant Wheel,” fell out of his gondola seat and hit a railing before striking the ground. The boy was about 50 feet above the ground in yellow gondola number 2 when he fell, said one witnesss

My four-year-old would meet the 41-inch requirement (as would the average four-year-old) but has absolutely no business riding the ride involved (an Eli wheel) (or perhaps a Chance Giant Wheel, according to someone else). (One early local news story showed what may have been a stock photo of an Eli wheel. More recent stories have shown a Chance ride.)

I wouldn’t put him or most four-year-olds on it alone (in fact, I wouldn’t put most seven-year-olds I know, including my daughter, on it alone), but everyone who’s ever been to a carnival knows that the idea of escape sometimes means people don’t think as well as we might hope. (Indeed, at least one operator tells its employees to “think for” patrons, because “guests are seeking to leave behind their daily routine, replacing it for awhile with a pleasurable, carefree existence.”)

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