EDMONDS — A group of boys zoomed past curious onlookers along the Edmonds waterfront Tuesday afternoon.
Gregg Jantz led the way, hurrying along on his Segway as effortlessly as if he were on his two feet. A big smile on his face made it clear how much he was enjoying the ride.
Gregg, 12, runs the Edmonds Segway Tours business with his father, whose name is also Gregg Jantz.
They live in Edmonds with Gregg’s mother, LaFon, and 9-year-old brother, Benjamin.
A Segway is a motorized, two-wheeled vehicle that looks something like a hand truck. It has sensors that allow it to balance in a unique way to prevent riders from falling. To go forward, the riders shift their weight forward, and to shift it backward to go backward.
An inventor named Dean Kamen introduced the world to Segway in 1999. He projected that the machine would revolutionize personal transport, but it hasn’t lived up to the hype.
It did, however, live up to Gregg’s expectations.
The Jantz family vacationed in Hawaii a few years ago and took a tour on Segways. Gregg hopped on the machine and found it easy and fun to drive. He fell in love with the experience and wanted to bring it to his hometown.
“I guess I’m a technology guy. I got really interested in this,” he said.
Gregg, then 11, with the help of his dad wrote a letter to Segway Inc., the company that manufactures the vehicles. He wanted to become a certified Segway dealer.
The father and son were invited to the Segway factory in New Hampshire. Gregg’s parents encouraged him because they wanted him to learn business and other skills.
The father and son created a route after many hours of research into Edmonds history and everything the city has to offer. They used to lead all the tours in the beginning but have since hired two guides to help out.
Gregg’s favorite part of the tour is Brackett’s Landing — because he gets to talk about George Brackett, the founder of Edmonds.
The landing was the group’s first stop Tuesday. Chris Martin, 15, of Edmonds, tried driving his Segway on sand as the other boys cheered him on. He was riding an off-road model.
“I got it in five minutes,” he said.
Chris and Gregg both go to King’s School in North Seattle.
“When my mom told me Gregg was running Edmonds Segway Tours, I was, like ‘Really? A 12-year-old,’ ” he said.
After learning about George Brackett, the group found a shady spot further along the waterfront.
On the way, they passed 77-year-old Carol Singer of Mountlake Terrace, who sat down to rest for a minute on her walker.
“I envy you guys,” she said. “I’d love to try it, but I wouldn’t dare.”
For more information about Edmonds Segway Tours, go to www.edmondssegwaytours.com.