(Part Two: The Grand Parade)
A grand parade was planned to celebrate the right of every person to stand on the platform. Politicians and celebrities came to praise the freedom Ms. Shrewsberry’s struggle achieved. A bronze plaque was erected marking the date of the court’s decision and the history of the platform.
Over the years, visitors to the platform grew. Eventually, the bridge was closed to through traffic due to the volume of tourists stopping to see the platform. County residents were again forced to make the long drive around the gorge to commute to home and work.
Years passed and the Shrewsberry Memorial Center (SMC) was established to celebrate and educate the public on the struggle of Addie Shrewsberry. Funds came flooding in to the Center. The platform was painted in rainbow colors, bedazzled with jewels, flowers and feathers. Celebrations happened on the platform. Weddings, commitment and anniversary services were held right on the edge of the platform. The SMC helped coordinate all of them.
Then came the day of the Bolware/Sizemore wedding. As the couple said their vows they stepped closer and closer to the edge of the platform. Holding hands and standing right on the edge they turned and in unison said, “Goodbye!” to all their gathered witnesses. They plunged off the ledge and into the gorge and sinkhole below. As they disappeared past the Silent Falls the crowd erupted in applause and cheers. The video went viral. Suddenly, the SMC was overwhelmed with requests for what became known as “Falling Celebrations.”
Protest groups started to form denouncing these celebrations and warning of its dangers. Celebrities, politicians, church leaders and cultural activists defended the right of people to come to the bridge and jump off the edge. Lawsuits were filled to stop the SMC from holding these falling celebrations. Eventually, these issues made their way to the highest court in the land. Not only were they not rejected but the right of people to jump off the platform was affirmed and expanded.
(To be continued)