BASE jumping enthusiasts and spectators will head to New River Gorge this weekend for the 34th annual Bridge Day Festival.
Festivities kick off with the WOAY Taste of Bridge Day from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at Smokey's On the Gorge. The event offers visitors a chance to sample an array of West Virginia food products from restaurants throughout the state. Tickets are available at the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, the Visitor's Center at the Crossroads Mall and at the door. Each vendor will serve sample-sized portions of their specialties. Tickets are $1 each.
On Saturday, the 876-foot-tall New River Gorge Bridge serves as the launching point for BASE jumps from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This is the only day traffic is shut down and spectators can safely and legally walk across the world's second longest single-arch bridge. Vehicular traffic will be closed from 7 a.m. to about 5 p.m.
BASE stands for Building, Antenna, Span and Earth. BASE jumpers leap from any and all of these four fixed objects with parachutes designed specifically for rapid deployment.
The New River Gorge Bridge saw its first BASE jumpers in 1979, just two years after the bridge was completed and opened to the public. As more people entered the sport, the tradition of coming to West Virginia for Bridge Day has grown - more than 800 jumps were made last year.
All of the jumpers are registered and can make as many jumps as they are able to within a six-hour window. There are a number of viewing areas surrounding the gorge. Shuttles will be available at several designated parking lots.
For more information, visit www.officialbridgeday.com or call 800-927-0263.