(MCT) — Every new roller coaster offers riders another opportunity to lose stuff — and not just their lunch — as evidenced by the busy lost-and-found department at Six Flags Great America.
Last year, workers at the Gurnee amusement park recovered 7,500 cellphones and 3,500 cameras, along with hundreds of wallets, keys, coins and pairs of sunglasses, said Dameon Nelson, director of park operations.
More unusual lost items include engagement rings and retainers, park officials said. The ubiquitous cellphone, though, now takes the lead.
"You may think it's secure in your pocket, but you have to account for the forces of the ride," Nelson said.
About 40 percent of the recovered items are claimed by their owners; what's left is donated to charity, said Jennifer Dugan Savage, park spokeswoman. Six Flags has worked with United Way to find new homes for some items, she said. The park has donated unclaimed cash to groups like the Honor Flight Network, which pays for veterans to visit the National World War II Memorial in Washington, she said.
The ground beneath a mega-loop in the Superman: Ultimate Flight coaster has become a well-known repository for personal items, Nelson said. The new X Flight coaster, with its five inversions, may offer some competition to the collection of lost items this year.
During the 2006 season, Six Flags officials reported cataloging and investigating lost property including an autographed Cubs hat, a pair of crutches and a plastic bag containing $300 in coins and bills.
A worker then recalled a woman from a previous year who lost a prosthetic leg on Batman: The Ride. The woman was quickly reunited with her leg, but a man who reported a lost denture was not as fortunate.
Park guidelines encourage guests to store cellphones and other electronic devices in their car, a locker or with a nonrider. The park's lost and found holds items for up to three days before they are mailed to owners or donated.
"There is never any danger of anyone being injured by items that fall from rides," said Savage, citing ride perimeter restrictions and other factors.