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REGISTER HERALD THE

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Beckley, West Virginia ◆ Single copy: $1.50

B R I D G E D AY 2 0 1 3

F. BRIAN FERGUSON/THE REGISTER-HERALD (3)

Visitors make the walk to the New River Gorge Bridge ... a BASE jumper hangs suspended in a foggy gorge ... big screens showed viewers a live-action vicarious thrill.

Freefalls, families and deep-fried fun It’s an event made for daredevils ...

34th annual festival is a success with only a few injuries and a new record

By Wendy Holdren REGISTER-HERALD REPORTER

By Brandi Underwood

“What’s the worst that could happen?” a New York skydiver asked his buddy before getting ready to leap off the New River Gorge Bridge during the 34th annual Bridge Day. Hundreds of daredevils from all over the world suited up Saturday, many for their first ever BASE jump. One of the first-timers, Evalina Turpin, of Canada, said her first jump was “amazing.” She hit the water, but she said that was her goal since it was her first BASE jump: “Better to be safe than sorry,” she said.

REGISTER-HERALD REPORTER

See DAREDEVILS, 8A

... and their loved ones By Wendy Holdren REGISTER-HERALD REPORTER

Bridge Day was a great day not only for jumpers, but for families as well, including at least one father and son BASE jumping team and one nervous mother whose daughter was jumping for the first time. Ruth Leventry’s 26-year-old daughter, Lisa, took her first tandem BASE jump Saturday. “She’s never even been skydiving!” her nervous mother said. “Her instructor is supposed to be a top-of-the-line instructor though.”

CHRIS TILLEY/FOR THE REGISTER-HERALD

Almost dry: A jumper sets down in the New River just shy of the landing area.

Watch online

register-herald.com

Videos from Bridge Day

See FAMILIES, 8A

More photos Picture page on 1C and photos throughout this section.

Extreme sports, deep-fried Oreos, cellphone selfies and family bonding may not always blend harmoniously, but at Saturday’s Bridge Day festival, these components merged seamlessly to pass the event’s 34th successful year. Bridge Day has come a long way since its inauguration in 1980. In its first year, two parachutists jumped from a plane onto the bridge, and a mere five BASE jumpers leaped from the bridge into the gorge, according to the official Bridge Day website. Back then, certificates were distributed to the people who showed up to watch the action and walk the 3,030-foot length of the bridge. To a crowd of 5,500, that was feasible. Now catering to a crowd of more than 70,000, certificates are no longer awarded. However, people have found new ways to commemorate the day. DeLynn and Doug Davis, of Charleston, visited Bridge Day for the first time in 22 years Saturday. “It’s amazing how much it’s changed,” said Doug. “It’s become a lot more commercialized.” Standing 876 feet above the ground, the couple snapped a photo of themselves on the bridge to send to their children. As recent empty nesters, DeLynn said they want to prove to their kids that they could still have fun without them. “Look, mom and dad still have a life,” DeLynn joked. With more than 100 vendors, Bridge Day now offers something for everyone. From household goods to a turn on a trampoline, people can take away souvenirs of both the tangible and intangible varieties. Eight-year-old Elisha Tabit, of Fayetteville, caught some major air and performed a few backflips of his own on the Fun Factory’s bungee trampoline. “You feel like you don’t weigh See FESTIVAL, 2A

■ AGING FACILITIES IN NEED OF RENOVATION

State lawmakers review funding needs for W.Va. parks By Bruce Schreiner ASSOCIATED PRESS

CHARLESTON — West Virginia’s expansive system of state parks draws big crowds looking to unwind or play in its mountains, rivers and lakes, but the eye-catching scenery is

mixed with structures showing signs of decline. State lawmakers preparing for the 2014 legislative session are looking at funding options for the upkeep of a network of 35 parks, seven forests, five wildlife management areas and two rail trails that attract-

ed more than 6.6 million visits last year. One option that a top lawmaker would like to avoid is assessing a fee to enter the state parks. The parks are an economic force, generating $127 million of economic activity. The out-

WEATHER

Sunny. Volume 134 Number 123

High 56. Low 38. Details, Page 8A

■ NEWS HOTLINE: 304-255-4400

door activities including hiking and biking let West Virginians work up a sweat in a state struggling with one of the nation’s highest obesity rates. Nearly 200 of the park system’s almost 1,500 buildings are 75 years or older, Depression-era structures included in

the backlog of needed repairs. A legislative audit recommended infusing at least $3 million each year for major repairs to chip away at maintenance and renovations that total tens of millions of dollars. See PARKS, 8A

INSIDE TODAY BRIDGE . . . . . . . . 10E

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DEAR ABBY . . . . . . 4E

STATE & REGION . . 3A

DEATHS . . . . . . . . . 6A

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