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There for the monuments, but awed by the metro

This is a special edition of Citrus Slices, culled from a road trip to Washington, D.C., with 200-plus fifth-grade Safety Patrol members.

YOU CAN TAKE THE KIDS OUT OF THE COUNTRY, BUT:. . . First came the hum, then the headlight rounded a curve. In a flash, the six-car train slid to a stop, the doors whispering open.

The 30 kids who just moments before had peered into the darkened tunnel for a glimpse of the train broke into a cheer.

As the students excitedly tumbled into the car, tired commuters looked up from their newspapers and opened napping eyes at the commotion. Then they smiled, some laughing out loud at the gaggle of children who obviously were riding a subway for the first time.

Leaning close to a startled strap-hanger on the Washington Metro, a chaperone for the Citrus County kids stated the obvious: "We're not from around here."

WHO NEEDS KUMBA? _ Underground trains aren't the only things found at subway stations that are alien to Citrus County. As the group of 40 students and parents from Pleasant Grove Elementary reached the Rosslyn station, they were treated to a second ride, this time on an escalator.

And not just any escalator, but the fourth largest one in the world, according to the tour guide.

The group clambered aboard, careful not to get feet pinched, and rode toward the sky. To the bewilderment of ticket takers and commuters, the group, strung out along the long escalator, began a spontaneous performance of "The Wave."

A SIGN OF THE SEASONS: As the tour bus cruised along a busy Washington street, the students pointed out curiosities. One student was particularly puzzled by a bright red street sign, the likes of which are unseen in Citrus County.

"What's a Snow Emergency Route?" she asked.

DOUBLING THEIR PLEASURE: Sometimes, it was hard to tell who was having the most fun, the kids or the Citrus deputies.

While the work was hard (you try keeping track of 250-plus people in a strange city), the officers found time to keep everyone in a good mood, themselves included.

One of the stunts the deputies pull each year is turning themselves into twins for a day, a bit of magic that happens when the group portrait is taken at the Grant Memorial.

The photographer uses a time-lapse camera that slowly pans the group, a process that takes about 20 seconds. That's just enough time for three deputies, who line up at the far right in the back row, to duck down, run to the other side of the row, and pop up.

If done correctly, the three deputies appear twice in the portrait. Take a look at the photo in this section and see if you can find them.

By the way, the law enforcement personnel on the trip were Lt. Jim Beebe and Sgt. James Martone and deputies Kevin Purington, Doug Alexander, Scott Farmer, Ron Frink, Tim Langer and Hank Goodwin. Also, Jim Norcross, a paramedic, took time off from work and accompanied the group at his own cost.

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