Bridge Day

Bridge Day is a holiday observed on the third Saturday of October every year. Although its name suggests that this is a day dedicated to bridges, the truth is that this day is actually dedicated to BASE jumpers.

For those unfamiliar with this activity, BASE jumping is the recreational sport of jumping from a fixed object, such as a bridge, using a parachute to descend safely to the ground.

The word BASE is an acronym that stands for Buildings, Antennas, Bridges, and 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 observed in Fayetteville, West Virginia, in the U.S. It was first 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 is 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 the bridge and is the only exception to the general ban on BASE jumping throughout 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 quite fascinating. So fascinating, in fact, that we felt it was necessary to dig up some extra information on the subject to 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 for 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.
  • BASE jumpers generally have completed 100 skydiving jumps 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 must register at and meet some basic criteria. At the time this article was written, 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.

When is it?
This year (2024)
October 19 Saturday
Next year (2025)
October 18 Saturday
Last year (2023)
October 21 Saturday
Activity & Action, Sports