See local Christmas lights on a Segway

Kelly Ardis

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Viewing Christmas lights through the windows of a car was not enough for Nick Dokolas, a teacher at Columbia Elementary School, so he thought of a way to enhance the experience for himself and anyone else willing to try something new. He started Seg Bakersfield and this holiday season marks its first Segway Christmas lights tour. Starting Dec. 4, participants can tour the Haggin Oaks area on one of the Segways that Dokolas owns.

A Segway is a two-wheeled vehicle that balances itself and its rider, and it moves with the rider’s leaning. Dokolas got started with Segways five years ago, when he became a Segway dealer and gave tours in Wisconsin while there for the summer.

“My wife is from Wisconsin and I was looking for something to do in the summer there,” said Dokolas. “I’ve always been fascinated with Segways. I actually committed to being a dealer before I ever stepped on one. Everyone said it was so easy.”

With 10 Segways going unused during the rest of the year, Dokolas thought a Christmas lights tour would be a good use for them while he wasn’t in Wisconsin. He also wanted to introduce Segways in Bakersfield, and so Seg Bakersfield was born. Last year, Dokolas did a trial tour and took pictures for promotion of this year’s tour. He found that seeing the lights on a Segway is more fulfilling.

“When you’re in a car, you can only see right through the windshield. You can’t see much, especially in the backseat, and the driver has to look at the road too,” said Dokolas. “When on a Segway, you can see the whole thing. It’s a much more personal experience.”

Before each tour, Dokolas will train the participants and teach them how to go forward, backward and turn. He believes anyone can ride a Segway.

“The key is trust. Once a participant can trust the Segway, it’s completely easy,” said Dokolas. “I’ve trained over 2,000 people and only two of them couldn’t relax enough and couldn’t trust the Segway.”

Dokolas encourages people to come to a tour and try out a Segway.

“It’s a unique experience, it’s the only thing you stand on and it balances you,” said Dokolas. “It’s like a magic carpet: wherever you want to go, it takes you. You just have to think about it.”

With summer in Wisconsin and Christmas in Bakersfield, there is still time when the Segways are not being used, and Dokolas has plans to change that.

“I want to give historic tours of downtown Bakersfield,” said Dokolas. “There are a lot of historic places in Bakersfield that people don’t realize. These tours will have the unique experience of a Segway, and you’ll learn about the city.”

Seg Bakersfield gives three tours a night on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Dec. 4 to Dec. 30. Space is limited to eight people per tour, so call ahead for reservations at 393-1793. Tours last about an hour and cost $55 or $45 for students. Dokolas recommends bundling up and wearing gloves. For dates and times, go to SegBakersfield.com.

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