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I have a fear of heights, but I try not to let it stop me.
I’ve been atop the Eiffel Tower, the now former Sears Tower, the St. Louis Arch and the Empire State Building to varying results. I have little fear if I’m inside or feel secure, which is why roller coasters or airplanes never bothered me. Wind brings anxiety which is why I’ve completely enjoyed the Eiffel Tour on a clear day and hated the Empire State Building on a breezy night.
The closer I am to a ledge – or now my kids – the sharper the fear becomes. We love Rock City in Chattanooga but when the kids stood next to a thick, rock wall at the ledge, I could feel the anxiety in my blood. When the Portuguese tourists sat on the wall for pictures, I had to turn away.
That fear makes it unlikely that I would ever go to Gatlinburg SkyLift Park’s record-breaking glass pedestrian suspension bridge – though it is perfectly safe. But if I had been up there on June 15, 2020, it is quite likely I’d have had to kill a man.
The SkyBridge had to close temporarily that Monday night when a guest – or moron – decided it was a great place to attempt a “baseball” style slide. I presume it was for a Tik Tok video or some such nonsense.
Upon impact, a metal object in Charlie Hustle’s pocket cracked the glass and, I imagine, freaked a whole bunch of people the hell out.
I’m not a rule follower by nature. A textbook example of Generation X, I often feel that rules are beneath me. But if there’s one place I’m a staunch advocate of following the damn rules, it’s on a 700-foot long suspension bridge made of glass panels. Haven’t any of you people seen the Temple of Doom? I am not gonna be able to grab a rope and swing to safety!
We’re 140 feet in the air. Don’t run. Don’t jump. Don’t bounce.
These are not examples of a hyper-anal society holding us back. These are keys to making sure we don’t all die in the dumbest fashion this side of licking a poisonous frog.
We live in a society. If you have to be told to not baseball slide on a glass pane 140-foot up in the air, maybe you shouldn’t be part of it.
Intellectually, we know there was no actual danger. You don’t build something like that without redundancy upon redundancy. Had catastrophe occurred, there were multiple more layers of thick glass and presumably few more sliding metal pocketed morons ready to break on through to the other side. Park officials said the structural integrity of the bridge was never in danger.
Can you imagine? 140 feet in the air and you see a would-be Internet star run and slide onto the glass panels at the middle of the suspension bridge on which your life currently depends?
Let me hear the sound of glass cracking up there and see what happens next.
Still, sitting on my couch 60 miles away, reading about the incident on my phone, my righteous indignation flamed, my redneck quickly engaged.
I may have even uttered the phrase “I wish somebody would.”
My hope is that Chipper Jones wasn’t beaten to an inch of his life, but I hope somebody put the fear of Jesus in that kid and dangled him off the gorge like Suge Knight did to Vanilla Ice. I hope he or she learned a lesson.
If this whole incident has scared you off of the idea of visiting the SkyBridge, it shouldn’t, because SkyLift Park offers some of the most amazing views of the Smokies.
The bridge is wide enough for people to pass each other comfortably, allowing everyone to take the bridge at their own pace as long as that pace doesn’t involve running, jumping, bouncing or sliding around like an idiot.
The entirety of the bridge’s walkway is not glass, just the section in the middle. It offers spectacular views and a blast of adrenaline. It’s a great place to watch a sunset.
Gatlinburg SkyLift Park’s SkyBridge is already back up and running and one of the three glass panels was replaced with cedar planks.
For more information about SkyLift park, visit their website at www.gatlinburgskylift.com.
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