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Bridge Day™ History

Bridge Day has been held every year since 1992 with the exception of 2001, 2020 and 2021 – due to the 9-11 terrorist attack and COVID.  Since that time the number of individuals rappelling has increased over three-fold.  The chart below depicts the overall statistics for the Bridge Day™ rappel.

An estimated 20 teams will rappel off the Bridge’s catwalk at this year’s Bridge Day™ The majority of the rappellers are either cavers, firemen, EMTs, rescue personnel, climbers or rope instructors. This year’s rappellers will hail from West Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, Florida, and Canada. The teams will rappel distances between 700 and 850 feet, depending on their respective anchor spot on the catwalk. The team chosen first is given the anchor spot farthest from the bridge’s south side and, therefore will have the longest rappel.  Members of Extreme Rappels will again be raising and lowering the American and West Virginia flags to open and close Bridge Day™ 2012. The New River Gorge Bridge is the third-longest single-arch bridge in the world. It is the longest single-arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere. The bridge, 876 feet above the New River, is the third-highest single-arch bridge in the United States; thirteenth in the world. Bridge Day™ is recognized as the state’s largest one-day festival and also one of the top 100 festivals in North America. It has been estimated that Bridge Day™ directly contributes $1 million directly to the local economy of southern West Virginia. Benjy Simpson Sr began coordinating the Bridge Day™ rappel since 1992 with his son Benjy Simpson III beginning to help at the young age of 12. In 2023, Benjy Simpson III will be taking over as the rappel coordinator. Robert Barbarini will be the safety officer for this year’s Bridge Day™ rappel. The high line will also return to Bridge Day™ this year. Larry Smith and his team will rig the high line.