Bridge Day gets the go ahead, won’t be canceled despite pandemic

West Virginia

A stone terrace serves as an overlook of the New River Gorge Bridge for home owners at the New River Gorge Preserve, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2007 in Fayetteville, W.Va. When it comes to variety, value and unique attractions, developers say West Virginia has a lot to offer second-home buyers. (AP Photo/Jeff Gentner)

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. (WVNS) — The commission for West Virginia’s annual Bridge Day event met on Wednesday, Sept. 15 to vote on whether the event will take place this year.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Bridge Day was canceled in 2020, but organizers voted to move forward with the event that is set for Oct. 16, 2021. The Taste of Bridge Day, which historically takes place the night before, was canceled this week due to a rise in COVID cases in the region.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, thrill seekers will still converge on the New River Gorge Bridge next month for base jumping, repelling and more. Masks will be required for everyone in attendance.

A healthcare worker joined the meeting via Zoom and said the hospitals in Fayette County are stretched too thin, due to lack of staff and a rise in COVID cases, to handle an event like Bridge Day. The healthcare worker continued by saying bringing thousands of people to their small town is a risk. “COVID is still out of control. People are still dying,” she said.

Fayette County Sheriff Mike Fridley made a motion for Bridge Day to be canceled. He said there was no way to enforce mask wearing at Bridge Day since there is no state mandate. He said he was also concerned about the small size of the Sheriff’s Department. Fridley said all deputies will be on duty for Bridge Day, so if they get sick, it will have an impact on law enforcement in Fayette County.

The meeting concluded with a vote by the commission, which resulted in a 4-2 vote in favor of having Bridge Day in 2021.

Bridge Day is known as West Virginia’s largest one-day festival, with 100,000 people expected to attend each year.

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