Bridge Day is a holiday that’s observed on the third Saturday of October every year. Although its name suggests that this is a day dedicated to bridges, the truth of the matter is that this day is actually dedicated to BASE jumpers.
The word BASE is an acronym that stands for Buildings, Antennas, Bridges, and the Earth (mountain cliffs and peaks). Although this activity is illegal in many areas, a whole culture has grown around BASE jumping, which is how this holiday came into existence.
The History Of Bridge Day
Bridge Day began as an annual one-day festival that’s observed in Fayetteville, West Virginia in the U.S. It was initially observed in 1980 and over 40,000 people attended the event. This event has been held every year since that date, except for a few exceptions. In 2001, events were canceled due to the events of 9/11, and in 2020-2021, it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This day is currently coordinated by the New River Gorge Bridge Day Commission. It’s held on the third Saturday of every October to commemorate the New River Gorge Bridge’s completion in 1977.
This day is the only day of the year when people are allowed to BASE jump off of the bridge and is the only exception to the general ban on BASE jumping through the entire United States National Park System. Every year, approximately 300-400 BASE jumpers take part in this event during the festival. In 2019, there were 303 jumpers from 41 U.S states participating in approximately 790 jumps. That year, there were almost 100,000 spectators.
Some Interesting Facts About BASE Jumping
Although we must admit that we’re not going to try out BASE jumping anytime soon, we do find the whole recreational sport to be quite fascinating. So fascinating, in fact, that we felt that it was necessary to dig up some extra information on the subject. Something that we can share with all of our interested readers. The following list of facts is what we uncovered.
- BASE jumping originated from skydiving, but is much more dangerous than jumping out of an airplane.
- The BASE Jump death rate is approximately 1 fatality out of every 60 jumpers.
- BASE jumping fatalities are 43-times higher than skydiving fatalities.
- In 2015, over 260 people died BASE jumping.
- In most places, BASE jumping is illegal and jumpers can be arrested and charged for jumping.
- Although there were publicity stunts featuring BASE jumping performed by several people during the 1960s, modern base jumping wasn’t invented until the end of the 1970s.
- BASE jumping was invented by Carl Boenish in 1978.
- Carl Boenish died in 1984 while BASE jumping in 1984.
- BASE jumpers generally have 100 skydiving jumps performed before they attempt a BASE jump.
- For BASE jumps of 300 feet or lower, jumpers use a static line to deploy the chute.
Observing Bridge Day
Before anyone can participate in Bridge Day, they have to register at Jumpbridgeday.com and meet some basic criteria. At the time that we wrote this article, BASE jumpers are required to have completed a minimum of 50 parachute or BASE jumps and must be registered to jump beginning July 1st. BASE jumpers also have to purchase a Jump Pass — which at the time of this article was $75.