Monday, October 24, 2011

Annual Bridge Day Celebration Draws Huge Crowd

Some pretty amazing stats from this mornings' NPS Digest on the most recent Bridge Day at New River Gorge:

Bridge Day was held in the park on the Saturday before last and drew almost 100,000 visitors.

The bridge over New River Gorge National River is a prominent icon in West Virginia. Dedicated and officially opened on October 22, 1977, the New River Gorge Bridge spans 1,700 feet with an overall length of 3,030 feet; it is the longest single arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere and the second longest in the world. At 876 feet high, it is the second highest bridge in the United States. It is owned by the West Virginia Department of Highways, and the Bridge Day celebration is a cooperative effort between the National Park Service and numerous state and county agencies.

The first New River Gorge Bridge Day was held on November 8, 1980. The celebration is held annually on the third Saturday in October and is West Virginia’s largest single-day event.

The event is keynoted by the largest BASE jumping event in the world. For six hours during the festival, the New River Gorge Bridge is the launching point for BASE jumps, rappelling teams and high line rides done under permit. This year there were 868 rappels, and 750 BASE jumps completed by 421 jumpers. This included 11 tandem jumps, a first for the event. Boat rescue teams made 180 water pick-ups; there were eight ambulance transports for back injuries, broken limbs, and other injuries. One BASE jumper failed to open his parachute in time and hit the river at about 60mph and was hospitalized with spinal injuries, lung injuries, and a fractured pelvis.

The event is managed under the incident command system, with fourteen agencies participated in the operation.


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