Day 1: August 30, 2008
Honda 1, Crab 0
Previous Day
Next Day
Site Home
Trip Home

When I first saw the RoadsideAmerica's headline that someone was jumping over a giant crab, I asked myself just what sort of wacko place could be the setting for this sort of bizarre event. Then, in the first paragraph, I learned that this wacko place was Blanchester, Ohio; a town barely fifteen miles from my home. After learning a little more about both the jumper and the jumpee, I knew this was something I wanted to see.

The jumper is 61 year old Gene Sullivan who has been jumping for Jesus for thirty years. Gene is a one time Evel Knievel body guard who officiated at the graveside service for his former employer. The jumpee is a 55 foot long horseshoe crab created for a Baltimore museum that never got going. The crab was purchased by the Creation Museum in Hebron, Kentucky, who later decided it didn't quite work for them and donated it to the Freedom Worship Baptist Church in Blanchester. A chance meeting between Pastor Jim Rankin and a Sullivan colleague (at a Robbie Knieval jump at King's Island!) led to today's jump.

I've been to the Creation Museum and I've seen Robbie Knieval at King's Island (...when I was there for his dad's 1975 jump. I'm looking for pictures when I get home.) so this event was clearly a natural for me.

The jump is just one part of Crabfest '08. I may regret not buying a souvenir "plush horseshoe crabs" if this thing becomes tradition.

There was lots of music on the stage next to the landing ramp. I believe the first and third pictures are of "Mr. Chris & the Cruisers" and Glen Miller. In between is a choir from a nearby town. The group in the fourth picture is the "Fire Choir" from the Solid Rock Church that travelers on I-75 may know from its 42 foot Jesus and flashing colored billboard sized sign. They were very good and so were "Eastern Sky" and "Devona and the Demos".

While some of that music was going on, Gene was checking out the jump area. Because the crab and ramps are crammed in between two buildings, he couldn't make his normal ground level "speed passes" but that wasn't a big concern.

The program entry for "Devona and the Demos" included the phrase "with an appearance by Pastor Jim Rankin". He was on stage to introduce the group so I figured that was his "appearance". I figured wrong. It turns out the pastor was once a "Demo" himself and he returned to sing several songs with the current lineup. Check out some pictures of rockin' Jim here. Jim stayed on stage long enough to share national anthem duties with a young lady whose name I missed.

ADDENDUM: Sept 5, 2008 - I've since learned that the young lady who did such a great job on the national anthem is named Jayna Slone. She has a voice worth listening for. It was Jayna's rightfully proud mother who supplied the forgotten name and she also told me that the date is set for next year's Crabfest and that Gene Sullivan is planning on returning. The bigger & better Second Annual Crabfest will take place on September 5, 2009.

The national anthem was the start of the day's big finale. That "nationally televised" line on the sign out front was a bit misleading but not quite wrong. There was no live broadcast but Trinity Broadcasting Network planned to record the event for use in a future program on Gene Sullivan. I'm guessing that that is what the helicopter with a handheld camera was all about. With the chopper in the air, Gene's son Dan sang a few songs, his wife Ceci said a few words, then Gene himself took the stage. Brandon Sullivan, who I had briefly met earlier in the day and who called himself Gene's "spiritual son", took over when Gene left the stage to mount up.

Gene made a pass through the landing area then headed toward the other end as things moved quickly. The wall was doused with gasoline and ignited and Gene came bursting through the "flaming gates of Hell" just seconds later. I'm sorry if you missed it; sure glad I didn't.

[Prev] [Site Home] [Trip Home] [Contact] [Next]