West Virginia's Bridge Day is back after pandemic break


FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. (AP) — Thrillseekers from around the world are heading to southern West Virginia for a bridge-jumping event that was called off the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Saturday’s Bridge Day festival in Fayetteville is the one day each year that it’s legal to jump off the 876-foot-high New River Gorge Bridge.

Hundreds of BASE jumpers make the leap by parachuting off the bridge. BASE stands for the places from which jumpers usually leap: buildings, antennae, spans and earth.

As many as 100,000 people are expected to walk across the bridge. Rappellers also will make their way down on a fixed rope from a catwalk under the bridge. Also available is a 700-foot-long zipline from the catwalk to a road below.

The 3,030-foot-long bridge opened to traffic in October 1977. The festival is held on the third Saturday of October every year.

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Last year’s festival was canceled after a group representing parachutists said they wouldn’t jump off the nation’s third-highest bridge due to worries about sufficient emergency health care amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The event also was canceled in 2020.

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