On an overcast and windy Sunday afternoon, which was once a sunny beach morning, the last of the diehards are filtering off of State Beach. Most daring of them all are those who decide that after a day of sunning they will accept the traditional challenge of jumping off Big Bridge, the second bridge on Beach Road from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown.
Despite the grey skies, seasoned swimmers recognize this sort of weather: the air is cool, the water is a clear, dark green, and the August sea is warm.
“Is it freezing?” one prospective young jumper asks, yelling from atop the bridge to a jumper wading below.
“No! Not at all!” The young jumper swam to a yellow rope, and climbed his way back to the sand, where he decided, shivering as the wind blew, that he would make yet another jump. He is one who has no hesitation, who treats the roughly 15-foot jump with everyday nonchalance.
There are those who jump from lower down, squeezing their bodies through the openings on the walking bridge to stand on the platform. They make an easier jump, which is thrilling nonetheless.
There are those who make the higher jump, climbing above the platform to the top ledge, made for pedestrian stability on the bridge. With each jumper on the ledge, the bridge shakes, making those who have decided to surmount the 15-foot challenge warier with each jumper before them.
With a “1,2,3!” cry a group of young boys make a triply large splash as they hit the water below. Their family and friends look on impressed by the youngsters’ gall.
A younger sister of five years tugs at her father’s pant leg: “Can I jump, too?”
“She’s a daredevil,” the father explains, but he fears the tide might be going out too robustly. She will have to wait another year.
— Amanda Williams