Duluth business leaders ready to rappel for retail

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It's not exactly leaping tall buildings in a single bound, but a group of civic-minded Duluth leaders are hoping to raise money and awareness by rappelling down an eight-story office building next month.

To participate in what's being called the “Over the Edge” event on July 11, volunteers must raise at least $1,000 in pledges, which is all done online, the Duluth News Tribune reports. They will rappel down the eight-story Sellwood Building at 202 W. Superior St. during the downtown Sidewalk Days Festival

About 20 participants have signed up so far, including Mayor Don Ness and state Sen. Roger Reinert. But organizers are hoping for a lot more to keep the action going all day long, the paper reports.

Reinart tells the paper the event is a way to promote the fun and energy of downtown. But it also poses a challenge for him, who counts "pilot" among his avocations.

Similar rappelling fundraisers for nonprofits have been held around the country and in Canada in the past few years under the direction of Over the Edge, a Canadian-based company with an office in Reno, Nev. Since its start in 2008, Over the Edge has conducted more than 250 rappelling events and reports zero injuries, the News Tribune reports.

“The reality is that the actual risk of the event is extremely low while the perceived risk is very high,” its website says, according to the Tribune, in a somewhat convincing manner.

Over the Edge provides the gear, including harnesses, descenders, industrial ropes and safety backup lines, along with the technical know-how. The company also provides the insurance and professional staff, and makes sure all federal and state safety laws are followed.

Retail development one of the top priorities for the city's Greater Downtown Council this year, the Tribune says, and it chose to hold an Over the Edge fundraiser in Duluth to promote the cause. Its annual Sidewalk Days Festival downtown presented the perfect time to stage it since streets already are closed to traffic, and sidewalks can be easily cleared in front of the building, according to the paper.

It’s open to any adult who falls within the weight requirements of between 110 and 300 pounds. Minors can participate with a consent waiver signed by a parent.

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