Marcus Ellison grew up watching people jump off of the New River Gorge Bridge on West Virginia’s “Bridge Day”. At 24, he became the first Fayette County local to jump from the bridge.
“On a day-to-day basis people don’t usually know I’m a BASE Jumper, I’m just making coffee and doing my normal routine like everybody else is doing. But when someone who isn’t really familiar with the parachuting world finds out that you’re a BASE jumper...they’re always like ‘That’s nuts’ or you’re insane, or you’re an adrenaline junkie!’ I think a lot of people just don’t really know much about parachuting.”
Marcus Ellison grew up watching people jump off of the New River Gorge Bridge on West Virginia’s “Bridge Day”. For just a few hours each year the bridge would close to traffic, open to pedestrians and become legal to jump from (for those who had enough experience and bravery). “I can remember the first time I ever saw someone jump off that bridge I was five years old in 1989, so I was always pretty fascinated by what was going on out there on Bridge Day.”
19 years later, after making his way to WVU and into the US Air Force, Ellison returned to Bridge Day on his 24th birthday, ready to make the 876-foot leap toward the New River below. He had been learning to skydive in the Airforce with every intention of coming back to his home to jump from the bridge. “I was the very first true, born and raised, Fayette County local to ever jump the bridge. It was exhilarating. Everyone was cheering and it was just such a memorable moment to get to share with the people of Fayette County.”
This year, as the BASE Advisor to the Bridge Day Commission, Ellison made the first jump of Bridge Day, kicking off the 6-hour legal window jumpers have before needing to wait another 364 days, 18 hours to leap from the bridge again. But West Virginia’s jumpers are hoping to change that…
Ellison and his colleagues are meeting with officials in hopes of expanding legal BASE Jumping from the catwalk of the New River Gorge Bridge. Using a similar bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho as a model…they hope to legalize BASE Jumping year-round and open a school to teach people who want to get into the sport. In turn, the state would see unique tourism dollars that are otherwise being lost.
“We’re just excited to work with the community here to make something really special so we can help. This bridge has given so much back to BASE Jumpers through the years and we want to reciprocate that and give back to this community.”