By Julia Pearl | Reporter
While Wacoans view the Waco Suspension Bridge downtown as a historical landmark, many Baylor students use the bridge as their personal playground.
Students often visit the bridge to go tortilla tossing, take photos or walk near the river, though other students use the bridge for more dangerous activities. Daring students have been recorded climbing the bridge’s supports or even jumping into the Brazos from the bridge’s deck. One freshman student who decided to attempt such a feat confessed he knew it was dangerous and requested to remain anonymous because of the legality of jumping from the bridge.
“They just asked me if I wanted to jump off a bridge with them,” the freshman said. “I decided to just go ahead and try it out. We went down and looked at [the river] to make sure there weren’t any sticks where we were jumping and stuff. There was an older gentleman there and he said he jumped off like 40 years ago from the exact same spot that we did. That’s when we decided that we were going to do it.”
While jumping from the bridge is clearly not condoned behavior, the freshman student said that he was more inclined to do it because of the limitations and effects of COVID-19 on student life.
“I know we’re not supposed to, but I feel like with everything going on, it’s a good adrenaline rush,” he said. “It is something to do, and it gets our minds off of the stress.”
While jumping off of the bridge poses an obvious risk to students, other traditions that seem unsuspecting have a surprising impact. Tortilla tossing is known to be an unhealthy food source for ducks as well as a cause for trash to be left on the bridge. Virginia junior Susannah Sage said that while tortilla tossing is a popular Baylor tradition, she is aware of the impacts it has.
“I definitely have seen that it can have some negative impacts,” Sage said. “Especially with students leaving the trash all around.”
With the bridge shutting down for renovation this fall, tortilla tossing from the bridge will not be possible. Sage said that while tortilla tossing isn’t the most vital Baylor tradition, it is still a unique part of being a Baylor student.
“It’s kind of a bummer,” Sage said. “Because everything is so different this year already, I think it’s kind of sad that it’s one more tradition that people may not get to participate in.”
Sage said that it is important that students should behave respectfully if they want to continue to use the bridge.
“It [jumping off the bridge] makes me nervous,” Sage said. “I wish they wouldn’t because I think we risk the bridge getting completely shut down for everything. If we value this as a tradition, we should be a little more careful with it.”