June 2006 Issue
When the Purple People Bridge Climb opens this month on the Ohio River, theme park veteran Dennis Speigel will truly have gone "over the top."
"It's going to be a very entertaining, exciting kind of tourist attraction, the first one of its kind in the Northern Hemisphere," boasts the energetic Speigel of his unusual venture.
Speigel and his company, International Theme Park Services, are using an existing landmark - the Purple People Bridge linking the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati to Kentucky's Newport on the Levee - for an adventurous use: a two-and-a-half-hour guided tour, scaling the bridge on a specially designed pathway constructed exclusively for this purpose. Don't think rock climbing or any such daredevil pursuit. This is a mere stroll, albeit a vertical one.
Walkers will don purple-and-yellow jumpsuits and find themselves tethered to a steel cable strung along the entire span. Outfitted with helmets and radio headsets, they'll scale the superstructure while listening to the patter of the guide as they take in the 360-degree view of the hilly region. A complimentary group photo will be taken at the bridge's apex, as harnessed participants stand on a Plexiglas platform suspended 140 feet above the water. Along the journey, a guide will share historical tidbits about the area.
Speigel stresses the climb is for everyone, regardless of fitness level. (The only caveat: Participants must be age 12 or over, and at least 48 inches tall.) "It's not strenuous. Anybody can do it who's in basic good health."
The Purple People Bridge is the longest and only pedestrian bridge in the country that links two states. Some 2,670 feet in length, the span opened in 1872 as the L&N (Louisville & Nashville) railroad trestle. The bridge is privately owned by the Newport-Southbank Bridge Co., which has signed a 20-year lease with Speigel.
Tickets are $59.95 for a day climb, and $79.95 for sunrise, sunset and moonlight climbs. Reservations are suggested. Call 859/261-OVER.