Student builds roller coaster for his grandfather in R.I.


NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WJAR) - For many Americans, 2020 has been a year of ups and downs.

One college student was motivated to give that phrase a fun and positive spin for his grandfather.

Fred Silverblatt lives life on the edge. “A very young 83,” he’s still a practicing doctor and a triathlon athlete.

It’s not too surprising to hear there’s a new addition to his front yard causing a lot of amusement.

“I think we’re probably the only one in Rhode Island,” he said.

A one-way roller coaster was built by his grandson, Elliot Ryan.

“It actually really started when I was like 8 or 9 years old, and I always wanted to build a roller coaster,” Ryan said.

Home from college because of COVID-19, the 20-year-old who’s studying to become a civil engineer decided to finally turn that dream into a reality.

“I asked my grandpa and then he’s like, ‘Will you build it for me?’” he said. “And I said, ‘Sure.’”

Ryan worked almost every day April through August, using wood, nails and a slide he got as a gift from his grandpa when he was 2.

“He did everything all himself, that’s the amazing thing about it,” Silverblatt said.

Two weeks ago, Ryan put the final touches on his creation. Grandpa was the first to test it out.

“It was very exciting, probably more exciting than I anticipated,” Silverblatt said.

“It was crazy,” Ryan said. “I was a little nervous. I knew it was going to be fun for him and fun for everyone to watch him do it.”

Fun is exactly what it was for the family, who like many others recently have been dealing with a roller coaster of emotions.

“This really provided some enlightenment and some joy,” Silverblatt said.

Ryan says he’s grateful for his grandfather’s guiding encouragement, helping push his project to perfection.

“What he does is crazy; I don’t know what I’m going to be doing at his age, but it’s probably not going to be that,” Ryan said.

Grandson and grandpa already have plans to make the roller coaster even bigger next summer.

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