EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSThousands Take Part In Bridge Day
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Katy Brown
Videographer: Joe Stevens
Web Producer: Mamie Buoy
Also Contributing: The Associated Press, Heath Harrison
Reported: Oct. 19, 2013 10:58 AM EDT
Updated: Oct. 20, 2013 10:55 PM EDT
Fayetteville , West Virginia
Hundreds of BASE jumpers and thousands of spectators made their way to Fayette County for Bridge Day, a day when those with guts took the plunge off the 876-feet high New River Gorge Bridge.
“A couple hours out of the year, we can jump off this thing without having any trouble from the cops,” Jarrett Martin, of Florida, said. “They make it nice and safe for us, so why not? It's the perfect time to come."
While this is Martin's first trip to Bridge Day, he's been base jumping and sky diving several times before.
But there's something that makes him stand out.
"Over the other jumpers, I do have a disadvantage,” he said. “Not having the use of my lower limbs makes stability falling off the bridge that much more tricky."
As Martin took his first plunge from the bridge, there was no looking back.
"No hesitation,” he said. “Nope. Gotta keep doing what you love."
Not only did Martin make a successful first jump, he didn't hesitate to make a second dive off the bridge.
And local businesses around the New River Gorge got a big boost with all the tourists and BASE jumpers in town.
Dozens of businesses lined U.S. Route 19 leading to the bridge.
Tourists were able check out each booth as they walked to watch the BASE jumpers.
Vendors were offering everything from food to clothing and jewelry.
Businesses said it's a great way for them to expand.
“You get to meet your customers in their natural habits and not general marketing ploys,” Andrew Murphy, of Mountain Khakis, said. “You actually get to learn what they like to do.”
To make things a bit more fun and competitive between many vendors, businesses, including Mountain Khakis, sponsored a BASE jumper.
Thrillseekers from across the globe are converging on Fayetteville for the annual Bridge Day festival.
Saturday's event is the 34th year for the Bridge Day festival. It is the one day a year that it's legal to jump off the 876-foot high span across the New River Gorge.
More than 80,000 people are expected to walk across the bridge. Rappellers also will make their way from a cat walk under the bridge to the water below.
More than 450 BASE jumpers also registered to leap off the bridge. The acronym BASE stands for the places from which jumpers usually leap: buildings, antennae, spans and earth.
Those who have signed up come from 8 countries and more than 40 states. The youngest is 20 years old and the oldest is 84.
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