Cheers the 150th Anniversary of the Purple People Bridge with a Big Bourbon Bash

Enjoy bourbon, cocktails and city views during the Big Bourbon Bash on June 16.

click to enlarge An image of the 2018 "World's Biggest Bourbon Toast" on the Purple People Bridge to celebrate the release of New Riff Distilling's first batch of bourbon. - PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
An image of the 2018 "World's Biggest Bourbon Toast" on the Purple People Bridge to celebrate the release of New Riff Distilling's first batch of bourbon.

Help the Purple People Bridge say cheers to 150 years with a Big Bourbon Bash on June 16.

Held from 5-9 p.m., the party will feature bourbon, cocktails and city views. Area craft distilleries Boone County, Brain Brew, Cincinnati Distilling, Karrikin Spirits Co., Neeley Family, New Riff, Northside Distilling and Pensive will be on hand offering up their spirits. And a portion of sales will go to benefit the maintenance of the Purple People Bridge.

The now-iconically-colored local pedestrian bridge opened in 1872 as the first structure to carry trains from Cincinnati to Northern Kentucky, across the Ohio River. It later welcomed horse carts, streetcars and automobile traffic. After years of mixed use, confusing stewardship and certain levels of neglect, ownership was transferred to the Newport Southbank Bridge Co. — the bridge's current owner — in 2001.

With $4 million in restoration and a new purple hue, the former L&N Railroad Bridge opened as the pedestrian-only Purple People Bridge (aka the Newport Southbank Bridge) in 2006. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the Newport Southbank Bridge Co. says the 2,670-foot-long structure is "the longest connector of its kind in the country."

As most 150-year-old objects are wont to do, the bridge has suffered some physical issues recently. It closed to the public in May 2021 when a large stone from the first pier came loose and fell into the river, followed by several smaller stones. After receiving nearly $300,000 in grants to help with ongoing repairs in September of that year, the Purple People Bridge reopened to the public in November. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear also awarded the bridge $175,000 in April of 2022 to help with maintenance, sandstone repairs, blacktop resurfacing and to improve water and electric service.

The Big Bourbon Bash takes place 5-9 p.m. June 16. Get more info about the event and the bridge itself at purplepeoplebridge.com.

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