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Taking the plunge on Bridge Day

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. – He’s been taking the leap of faith every year since 2008. Marcus Ellison, of Fayetteville, is a dare devil at heart. He loves to jump off things, high things, like the New River Gorge Bridge.

He’ll be in fine form Saturday for the 34th annual Bridge Day celebration in Fayette County. While tens of thousands of people will be on hand to watch, Ellison will be one of just a few hundred to take a leap off a perfectly good bridge. Why?

Ellison took his first jump off the span during Bridge Day 2008.

“I get this question all the time. By that logic, I have a perfectly good parachute,” he laughed.

Most of us might not be able to understand what drives jumpers like Ellison to take the plunge. But listening to his reasoning, it almost tempts you to try.

“What it is that draws me to do this is the sense of freedom and overwhelming joy and happiness that this sport brings to me,” he explained.

He says Bridge Day is the perfect outlet for BASE jumpers. It’s a celebration of the sport, a chance to catch up with old friends and perform in front of a “home crowd.”

“To me it’s more relaxing, calming, than a normal jump would be because it’s more of an open, free environment. A lot of times the free basing that we do is considered illegal by a lot of people,” according to Ellison. “We beg to differ.”

Ellison says BASE jumping is “freedom.”

Ellison hopes to make at least three jumps on Saturday. And he’ll get to share that experience with his father. No, they won’t be tandem jumping. Ellison said his dad keeps his feet on the ground.

“A lot of times my dad is down [at the base] of the bridge. He likes to watch from the bottom. Then I get to hang out with my dad so he can see a little piece of what we do.”

The first jumpers will leap over the side of the bridge at 9 a.m. and they’ll keep going until 3pm. You can spot Ellison in the crowd. During his second jump, he’ll be in costume. He’ll be the sock monkey plunging toward the earth.

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