One of the most unusual events in America is Bridge Day, when tens of thousands of people gather at Fayetteville on the third Saturday of October to celebrate—and some to jump off—one of the world’s great bridges. Several organizations, agencies, and individuals contribute to this event, officially sponsored by the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce. The preeminent attraction is the New River Gorge Bridge, the world’s second-longest steel arch bridge. The bridge was completed on October 22, 1977. Northbound lanes of U.S. 19 have been closed for Bridge Day since 1980.
Many people take advantage of this closure to walk the bridge and to view the spectacular fall colors of the New River Gorge far below. Participants may visit the many booths set up for this special day with food, displays, and exhibits. Parachutists jump from the bridge into the New River Gorge, the only day it is legally permissible to do so. Bridge Day is fast becoming a regional event, drawing crowds estimated at 80,000 people. Although canceled in 2001 because of security concerns following the September 11 terrorist attack, the festival resumed on an annual basis in 2002.
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This Article was written by W. Eugene Cox
Last Revised on October 18, 2012