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AMERICAN MOSAIC - New Ferris Wheel Lights Up Washington, DC

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The Capital Wheel, a new Ferris wheel overlooking Washington D.C.
The Capital Wheel, a new Ferris wheel overlooking Washington D.C.

Welcome to American Mosaic from VOA Learning English. I'm June Simms.

Washington, D.C. now has a Ferris wheel. We will tell you all about.

Capital Wheel

Ferris wheels are very tall, rounded structures that move in circular motion from top to bottom. They are commonly found at carnivals and amusement parks. People ride them for fun although they don't go really fast like a rollercoaster.

Ferris wheels also provide riders with a great look at their surroundings. A new Ferris wheel, known as the Capital Wheel, is doing just that in the Washington area. ­­­­­

The structure stands 55 meters above the Potomac River. It is one of the few observation Ferris wheels in the world that is right on the water.

Lashonda Johnson lives in the area. She says she got a new look at the city she knows well.

"We saw the Capitol and all the historical museums, and traffic. It was just peaceful."

The National Harbor is home to the Ferris wheel. The harbor is just outside Washington, in Oxon Hill, Maryland. It is a new public center with shops, restaurants and hotels, and, now, a Ferris wheel.

The wheel has 42 cars, or gondolas, with heating and cooling systems. It can hold 336 riders. Kent Digby is operations director for the National Harbor. He says the Ferris wheel is very different from an amusement park ride. The idea is for people to enjoy some calming moments.

"It's very smooth, so you really, if you weren't paying too much attention, you wouldn't really notice that you're moving and that's all part of trying to make people comfortable and make sure that they understand that they're very safe."

The cost is $15 per person for a 15-minute ride.

Mark Poliquin, who came from the state of Connecticut with his family, says the ride was worth it.

"Top of the line, air conditioned cabs, they've got music playing."

The $15 million machine was built in the United States. Some of the parts are from Germany, and the gondolas came from Switzerland. It is similar to the London Eye Ferris wheel in Britain's capital.

The London Eye was the world's tallest Ferris wheel until 2006. Now, that honor belongs to the High Roller Ferris wheel that recently opened in Las Vegas, Nevada. It stands 167 meters in the air. The next tallest is the Singapore Flyer in Singapore, followed by the Star of Nanchang in China.

Bulgarian Yavor Todorov says his children wanted to go on a ride. But he admits he had a good time as well.

"It's exciting. You can see the whole Washington, D.C."

Each gondola seats eight people, except for one special V.I.P. car which holds four. There, for $50 per person, you can bring a bottle of wine.

"I call it our little Ferrari. It's all red and black leather, and it's pretty slick with wine coolers and its own pop-up TV and I'm sure more than one person will get engaged on a ride."

Kent Digby says the light show on the Ferris wheel is another treat. He says the lights can be made to go on and off in thousands of different orders.

"1,600,000 million lights and they can light up in any different color of the rainbow."

The Capital Wheel is open every day. Up to 800,000 people are expected to take the ride the first year.

I'm June Simms. Our program was written and produced by Caty Weaver. Join us again next week for American Mosaic from VOA Learning English.

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