Look Up! Fearless Paratroopers Fill Rhode Island Skies This Saturday
If you're driving through South County, Rhode Island, this weekend and see hundreds of paratroopers dropping from the skies, it's not a military invasion. It's the long-awaited return of Rhode Island Leapfest, hosted by the Rhode Island National Guard.
Never heard of Leapfest? Well, it is an annual international competition among paratroopers that hasn't happened since 2019. After a few Covid cancellations, the exciting event is back and will bring airborne soldiers from around the world to Exeter, Rhode Island.
And the best part is, you can watch the whole thing.
The premise is simple. Teams of four jumpers climb aboard CH-47 Chinook helicopters and leap from an altitude of 1,500 feet into a hay field on Glen Rock Road in Exeter. There is a target in the field visible from the sky and jumpers aim to land as close as possible to the marked area in the drop zone. You get timed on each jump as well as points for where you land and may the best team win.
Competition aside, this is a super-fun event to watch. Super-kid-friendly too, though pets are not allowed in the viewing area.
Food and drinks are, however, so you can pack a cooler, bring a blanket or chairs and sit out to watch the skies fill with parachutes. Plus, the entire thing is absolutely free. Awesome, right?
How to Watch Leapfest 2022
Here's what you need to know before you head to Leapfest.
Parking will be available at 300 Hog Hill Road in Exeter. You then have to walk about a mile to the spectator area at Adams Farm on Glen Rock Road to watch the jumps.
Jumps will happen throughout the day, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., so plan accordingly if you want to see it all.
There is shade along the tree line of the field troopers are jumping into for viewers to set up in, but umbrellas and tents are also allowed. Anyone using them, however, is urged to set up near the rear of the spectator area so as not to block anyone else's view.
Food and drinks are also welcome, with several food trucks and vendors on site as well. The Rhode Island National Guard just asks that you do not bring grills and leave the alcohol and drugs behind, too.
The last Leapfest in 2019 saw 262 jumpers take to the skies over Exeter. Nearly 100 of them were from foreign countries such as Chile, Germany and South Africa.
This event is sure to wow the crowds that stop to watch as well as foster relations among airborne soldiers around the world.