I jumped off the infamous JAWS Bridge in Martha’s Vineyard, and it was thrilling
No sharks in these waters this time
Martha’s Vineyard: home of sun, sand, relaxation… and bridge jumping.
The island was the location of the fictitious Amity Island in the 1975 movie JAWS, where beachgoers ran for their lives from the vicious shark, Jaws, lurking in the Atlantic waters. Many locations on the island, including the state beaches, were used during the filming of the movie, but the most famous landmark from the movie is the American Legion Memorial Bridge, known to everyone as the JAWS bridge.
Since the movie's premiere, tourists and locals alike have flocked to the bridge to have their shot of jumping from it. The process is simple: jumpers climb the bridge rail, jump 15-20 feet into the water (many flip and dive into the water as well), and then climb out onto the neighboring beach using the rocks on the beach’s edge. However, it takes a brave person to have the guts to jump off this bridge.
My family and I take a vacation in Martha’s Vineyard every summer, and ever since I was 14, my younger sister and I have always wanted to jump off the bridge. One day every summer, we would travel to the bridge and get to the rail, only to turn around and go back home because we were afraid to jump. But this year, we finally decided to do it.
At first, I did not want to do it. I stood on the beach with my mom as I watched my younger sister and her boyfriend jump. It took my sister 15 minutes to climb to the top of the rail and jump because she kept doubting herself.
But after seeing them jump, I put all my fears aside and walked to the bridge to have my shot of jumping from it. Luckily, my sister's boyfriend came to jump with me after jumping with my sister so that I didn't have to go alone. It was now or never, I kept saying to myself. It was time to finally make my 14-year-old self proud.
I arrived to the bridge with nervous energy, scouring around the bridge to find a spot to jump. It did not help that many people, mostly children younger than me, were climbing and jumping off the bridge in a blink of an eye. After a couple minutes, I finally found a spot near the middle.
We waited a little while for the people next to us to jump in order to climb the rail, but the waiting was never ending, as a boy named Charlie kept hesitating to flip off the bridge. While waiting, I got even more nervous. What if this was me once I got to the top of the bridge? Would it be another instance where I would again chicken out and go home without jumping? I began to get even more frustrated at Charlie as he kept doubting himself. After five minutes, he got off, and by then I knew it was my turn to jump.
I begin to climb the rail, which consisted of four wooden planks, with the help of my dad. However, when I got to the second plank, my knees buckled inward and I began to panic. I've experienced knee buckling before, but this time around it wasn't the best feeling in the world. I stepped off the railing to regain my composure.
It took about another minute or so for my dad to reassure me that I was fine, and with his help I began to climb to rail again. Instead of stumbling on the second wooden plank, I persevered and made it all the way to the top.
"Okay, Britt, you ready?" my sister's boyfriend asked me. "I'm going to countdown from thre and then we're going to jump. You ready? Three, two, one!"
And on one, we jumped the 15 feet into the ocean below.
I screamed as I jumped into the cool water, feeling the nervous energy leave me with every passing second. After a refreshing dip underwater, I swim to the end and get out to meet my family, who is laughing at me because of my unexpected ear-piercing scream. But, I finally did it. I finally jumped off that bridge.
Jumping off the JAWS bridge after years of anticipation and hesitation was thrilling and rewarding. I felt as if I was on the top of the world, that if I could jump off this bridge, I can conquer anything. I left the bridge with a new found confidence, and went to a nearby store to grab a sticker to brag about my accomplishment.
Many people don't consider jumping off bridges for fun, but it was an experience, and the highlight of my vacation.