By Steve Keenan
Skates and skateboards aren’t allowed, but two guys with pogo sticks will be.
A local staple of autumn, this Saturday’s 34th annual New River Gorge Bridge Day® near Fayetteville, will include the usual, highly-anticipated appearance of BASE (building, antenna, span or earth) jumpers from around the world, as well as teams of rappellers performing their craft from the bridge’s underbelly.
It will also feature an appearance by two members of the professional Xpogo Stunt Team, who will be near the bridge Saturday to stage a trio of 20-minute exhibitions (10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) for the public. Their performance is made possible by a new Bridge Day sponsor, IWI Athletics, according to Bridge Day Commission chairman Cindy Dragan.
According to www.xpogo.com, the Xpogo Stunt Team is “the most talented and experienced extreme pogo performance team in the world. Jumping over 9 feet in the air on next-generation pogo sticks while throwing down flips and incredible tricks, the Xpogo Stunt Team athletes create crowds in an instant and keep them engaged until the final bounce.”
Nick Ryan, a co-founder and the chief executive officer of Xpogo, feels Xpogo is a good fit for Bridge Day. He says the “highly visual” sport has “the right vibe” for Saturday’s event.
“Most people will see something they’ve never seen: guys going 9 feet in the air on pogo sticks, doing flips, tricks and stunts,” said Ryan. “We were contacted by Cindy Dragan, and it seemed like a perfect fit. We’re excited.”
Working their magic Saturday will be Xpogo athletes Tone Staubs, of Ohio, and Mike Hughes, of Michigan.
Hughes and Staubs will “wear helmets and protective gear; beyond that, it’s their skill,” Ryan said.
The Xpogo exhibitions will be located on the bridge’s southside, near Booth 125.
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Bridge Day®, presented by Subaru and held annually on the third Saturday in October, is the only day of the year pedestrians are allowed on the New River Gorge Bridge, which was completed on Oct. 22, 1977.
Earlier this year, the 876-foot tall engineering marvel was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
In addition to the Xpogo performances, Red Bull will have demonstrations Saturday involving BMX riders on the hour from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the bridge’s south side.
“We try to keep Bridge Day fresh,” Dragan said in a recent interview. “The people who come all the time want to see something different.”
Over the years, the BASE jumpers, however, have remained the centerpiece attraction. Approximately 400 individuals will embrace the opportunity to strap on their parachutes and legally take part in a free-fall fest during a six-hour (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) window Saturday. During the same time frame, rappellers from 19 different teams will descend from and ascend to the bridge.
For the second straight year, Bridge Day visitors will also get to see a select number of BASE jumpers depart the bridge via a human catapult designed by Jason Bell of Vertical Visions, the Bridge Day BASE organizer.
And, there will be a handful of tandem BASE jumps, during which novices have paid for or won the chance to be teamed with experienced jumpers to take the plunge into the gorge.
With the exception of necessary traffic involving event personnel, vehicular traffic on and around the bridge will be closed Saturday from 7 a.m. until approximately 5 p.m.
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Sony Electronics returns to Bridge Day in 2013 with a second-generation mountable, wearable POV video camera known as the Action Cam. During the event, athletes using the items will join in bringing the BASE jumping experience from the gorge to the screens in Sony’s onsite booth, where athlete footage will be featured in nearly real time.
Additionally, festival-goers will be able to register to win Action Cams of their own, as well as a rafting experience in the Gauley River.
Sony will also launch its “Action Cam Selfie” sweepstakes. No matter your activity of choice, the company wants to see the most extreme thing you’ve done. Participants can enter by posting a ‘selfie’ photo or video of their extreme moment — done in a safe manner — to either Instagram or Twitter using the #ActionCamSelfie hashtag for a chance to win one of five Sony Action Cams.
One entry is allowed per person and only United States residents are eligible. Winners will be selected at random and contacted via direct message on Twitter and/or in the comment of the photo on Instagram.
The sweepstakes runs from Oct. 18 to Oct. 31. For further details and sweepstakes rules, visit Sony.com/Blog.
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The best way to get to the bridge on the big day to see the activities or sample the wares of about 175 vendors is to take one of the shuttles. Again this year, Oak Hill Rotary, with sponsorship help from Hometown Subaru, will provide those shuttles. Park your car at designated locations, and $2 will secure you a seat on a shuttle that will drop you off outside the event entrance and bring you back to your parking area later.
Shuttles to the bridge will run from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. To avoid crowds, it is recommended participants take the shuttle back before 3 p.m.
A handicapped-accessible bus will operate on each side of the bridge.
Shuttle stops are listed below:
-- Oak Hill Kroger — The bus stop will be located on the Kroger side of the median between Kroger and the old K-Mart, at the far end of the median from the store.
-- Fayetteville Wal-Mart — The bus stop will be located at the far left side of Wal-Mart.
-- Fayetteville High School — The bus stop is right at the entrance to the gravel parking area. The buses turn around in front of the school and stop to pick up at the entrance to the upper gravel area.
-- Fayette County Court House, Fayetteville — The bus stop will be in front of Gumbo’s.
-- Milroy Grose Road — Parking is at the New River Campground.
-- Smales Branch Road — In front of the Lighthouse Worship Center.
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Bridge Day notes:
-- Kicking off the weekend will be the WOAY Taste of Bridge Day, which will be conducted from 5 to 9 p.m. by the Oak Hill and Fayetteville Rotary clubs on Friday, Oct. 18 at Smokey’s On The Gorge on Ames Heights Road.
Vendors serve sample-sized portions of their specialties.
Tickets are required.
-- After visitors, vendors and adventurers depart the bridge Saturday, the Fayetteville CVB will hold a chili and cornbread cookoff and music downtown. From 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., Wild Rumpus will perform, and the cookoff will be held from 3 to 6 p.m.
A farmers market will be held from 7:30 a.m. to noon in Fayetteville.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the 25th annual Fayette County National Bank Bridge Day Car Show will be held at the Gorge Gateway Center.
At noon, Skydive NRG will skydive with a large American flag in honor of the troops.
-- Besides skates and skateboards, organizers remind the public that several other items are not allowed on or in the vicinity of the bridge Saturday.
In order to prevent you from being stopped from entering the area around the bridge, note that none of the following are allowed: backpacks (check-in stations at both north and south entrances); coolers; folding chairs; large handbags; dogs (except service animals); bicycles (Fayette Plateau Ministerial Association will conduct check-in stations at both north and south entrances to the event); strollers (umbrella strollers are OK); skates; skateboards; wagons; weapons; fireworks; illegal drugs; and alcoholic beverages.
-- Dragan reminds those planning to walk or ride down into the gorge to see the activities that bus/shuttle drivers have been instructed to not pick up anyone not wearing an official event wristband.
-- For more information on any of the activities, call 304-465-5617 or 800-927-0263 or visit www.officialbridgeday.com.
For questions onsite Saturday, stop by the official Bridge Day booth near either end of the bridge. The Bridge Day poster will be available for sale at the booth, as well as other merchandise, in addition to event information being disseminated.
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