Annually, on the third Saturday in October, Fayette County, West Virginia hosts the largest extreme sporting event in the world, Bridge Day. Bridge Day is the one day a year where it is legal and (relatively) safe to BASE jump from the 876-foot New River Gorge Bridge. On Bridge Day, the New River Gorge Bridge is closed to traffic and open to approximately 200,000 pedestrian spectators. 450 trained skydivers attempt the jump, many more than once.
|Look closely. There are tiny blue parachutes in the trees.|
You may remember that my husband and my son headed out to the Gorge for this event last fall. Fortunately this year, my daughter and I were able to attend also. It was simultaneously one of the most spectacular, yet terrifying, events I have ever witnessed. Surprisingly, injuries are minimum. Yet every 20 seconds, when I would watch a different jumper launch off that platform, I couldn't help but wonder if this would be the jumper whose chute would cease to open.
We spent a portion of our day observing the action from the bottom of the Gorge at Fayette Station. There is excitement here. Roughly 70% of jumpers land on the ground, 29% land in the water, (I must admit, the Rescue Boats are a thrill to watch) and an unfortunate 1% land in trees, on rocks, on train tracks, etc. Seven people went to the hospital yesterday. We saw three of them. The worst ended up being a broken leg, although his injuries appeared to be much worse when his landing actually occurred.
The majority of the spectators view the action from the bridge watching jumpers step, cartwheel, flip, jump, and even catapult off of the bridge's platform. Route 19 is lined with vendors and food trucks, which makes the festival worthwhile!! If you live within a couple hundred miles of the New River Gorge, I definitely think you should observe the Bridge Day activities at least once.
To be honest, my minimal pictures do not do this day justice. If you want to see the action via the internet, I would recommend checking out this locally made 3-minute video. Red Bull is always a sponsor and promotes several jumpers. A quick youTube search will result in some of their incredible videos from past years.