Every family has their own traditions around the holidays. When the 4th of July comes around, some do picnics, some stay at home and barbecue. Some families watch fireworks displays, others watch 13 different vehicles get jettisoned off a cliffside. What? Is the latter of those not your preferred festivity come Independence Day? Then clearly you must not be a resident of Glacier View, Alaska.
Glacier View is home to the aptly named Glacier View River Retreat. This campground area currently only has one review on Google as of this writing, but at least it’s a 5-star review. Something tells us there would be more of them if people knew about the 4th of July car launch event they’ve been holding every year since 2005. And when they say it’s a car launch, they’re not joking or utilizing hyperbolic language, they’re literally launching cars over a 300 foot cliff.
Two car launch tracks are maintained, one in which cars are guided by a railroad track that attaches to the steering arm of the vehicle, and another in which the steering wheels are ratchet strapped straight with an open throttle. If this still sounds risky, well yes, there’s inherent risk in anything like this. At least no one is driving this things and bailing out at the last second. Even though that would make things more interesting; live free or drive hard…over a cliff.
The water has a barrier on one side, and trees to the other. These help to funnel cars to the water, where its momentum would slow to a stop and its wrecked carcass could be easily collected. Water is nature’s catch fence, right? After the event the cars and their assorted parts are rounded up and recycled; cleanliness is next to godliness after all.
Maybe you’re wondering why you haven’t known about this for the last 17 years. Well, it’s not like Alaska is the most culturally relevant state in the union- considering it’s not exactly contiguous.
If you’re curious as to how the tradition started, Car and Driver interviewed one of the event’s founders, Arnie Hrncir. Long story short, Hrncir’s wife hit a moose in their Volvo, and once he realized it wasn’t worth repairing, he ran it off a cliff to dispose of it. Mind you, Car and Driver does not delve into the environmental or legal implications of whether or not you should be disposing of vehicles this way, but we’re going to go out on a limb and say that you probably shouldn’t follow in Hrncir’s footsteps, or tread marks in this case.
There you have it, the 4th of July tradition you didn’t know you wanted in your life. We’ll be honest, it does seem a bit foolhardy, but then again a government report from 2020 indicates fireworks were responsible for 15,600 emergency room injury visits. So what’s crazier, launching cars off a cliff, or explosions in residential neighborhoods? At the very least we know which one isn’t going to terrify our dogs to no end.