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W.Va. Bridge Day first-timers thrilled by ‘insane, and so … intense’ event

By Jordan Nelson

The Register-Herald

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va — Isabella Chamberlain gasped over the crowd of people at the 38th annual Bridge Day as one BASE jumper got catapulted off the bridge and headed toward the cold New River below.

Crowds gather on the New Gorge Bridge on Bridge Day in Fayetteville Saturday. Photo by
Jenny Harnish/ The Register-Herald

“This is just insane, and so much more intense than what I was expecting,” Chamberlain said. “It truly is so much more hardcore than what I thought it would be.”

See video of the event:

Chamberlain and her boyfriend traveled all the way from Michigan to the West Virginia mountains specifically for Bridge Day, and she said she was far from disappointed.

“We planned our whole trip to West Virginia around this day, and I’m honestly so surprised,” she said. “I thought it would be just a few jumpers jumping, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a huge celebration among everyone here.”

Chamberlain said her boyfriend’s family is from West Virginia, and he wanted to show her the ropes of one of the most iconic celebrations in the state.

As this was her first time visiting West Virginia, she said the beauty left her in awe.

“It’s such a cool and beautiful place, I don’t know why everyone doesn’t live here and attend Bridge Day.”

Chamberlain said watching the BASE jumpers may have sparked an interest to become one herself.

“It’s just so awesome to watch,” she said. “I mean, it’s definitely crazy, but how cool would it be to do something like that? Without a doubt, if I had someone to do it with me, I’d totally be down for it.”

Chamberlain was not the only one left dumfounded by the excitement of Bridge Day, though.

Pryalal Karmakar traveled from Virginia with his children and friends, and said once he found out about Bridge Day, he knew it was something he could not miss out on.

Karmakar attended a camping trip at ACE Adventure in Fayetteville two years ago and said some of the staff informed him of the Bridge Day celebrations.

“We knew we had to come back for this,” he said. “We absolutely could not miss out on it.”

Karmakar took turns between shouting with excitement as the BASE jumpers jumped off the bridge and filming video with his cell phone.

He said he was sending pictures and videos to some of his friends back home, and said they were just as excited as he was.

“But they don’t have the chance to see all the beauty that goes along with this.”

Karmakar said the beauty of the bridge, sky, mountains and water amazed him.

“It’s kind of inspiring to see them jump quickly off the bridge but then slowly glide with their parachutes down to the bottom. It’s just simply beautiful.

“Although it’s beautiful, I still think the jumpers are crazy,” he said with a laugh. “But we love this, we’re excited to be here, and we’ll definitely be back.”

Kaitlin Fetty is a West Virginia native who had never been to Bridge Day.

“Are you truly a West Virginian if you’ve never been to Bridge Day?” she asked with a laugh.

Fetty is from Morgantown and traveled with her family to attend the event. She said the BASE jumping left her speechless.

“I think the whole thing is petrifying, but that just makes the whole thing even more admirable,” she said. “And honestly, it’s just really cool.”

Attending Bridge Day is not just to watch the BASE jumpers, but to really take in all the beauty of West Virginia, Fetty said. “And it’s a great way to appreciate what all it has to offer,” she added.

“Attending Bridge Day, well, it really just fits into what it truly means to be a West Virginian, and I’m glad I finally made it.”

Email: [email protected]; follow on Twitter @jnelsonRH

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