$7 ride is a thrill, but state doesn't call it an amusement; Euro Bobble tests balance, replicates weightlessness.

Byline: Martin Luttrell

After months of seeing people bobbing around in the shallow pool set up in the Solomon Pond Mall on the Berlin/Marlboro line, Caitlin McLain climbed into the Euro Bobble yesterday and rocked and rolled for a few minutes of weightless bliss. So did her friend, Kaleigh Nowlan.

It was a ball. Quite literally.

Each stepped into a deflated, clear vinyl ball that a ride operator then pumped full of fresh air, inflating each to its full size, about six feet in diameter, and zipped it closed.

The two giant bubbles floated in about a foot of water while the girls crawled, rocked and otherwise maneuvered the spheres, laughing and shouting to each other.

Afterward, they said it was worth the $7.

They were unaware that the state Department of Public Safety is reviewing the attraction to see if it should be regulated, or that a young girl reportedly passed out while riding in a similar mall amusement over the weekend in the South Shore town of Kingston.

"We've been seeing people riding in it, and we were going to bring friends," said Ms. McLain, 17, of Hudson. "It gets really hot after a while of moving around.

"I think it's safe. You stay right in the middle of the bubble, so if it hits the side of the pool, you're in the middle and you never touch the pool."

Ms. Nowlan, 18, of Hudson, said she tried to stand up and run, but was unsuccessful. "You have to have super good balance to do that," she said. "I thought there would be a lot of condensation inside, but there wasn't."

The operator of the Solomon Pond Mall bobble amusement declined to speak with a reporter, other than to point out that the Kingston incident occurred in a ride operated by a different company.

Sheila Hennessee, spokeswoman for Simon Properties, which owns the mall, could not be reached for comment late yesterday.

Terrel Harris, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, said the state does not officially classify the Euro Bobble as an amusement device.

"We are reviewing current law to determine if we can classify this so-called Euro Bobble as an amusement device," he said. "If we can classify it as an amusement device, that would allow us to regulate it."

He said he knew of no safety problems with it.

Judi Hill of...

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