It’s been nearly 20 years since the Newport Southbank Bridge permanently closed its roads to anything but pedestrian traffic moving between Kentucky and Ohio. The structure known as the Purple People Bridge is now in danger of having its defining lavender hue fade away into a pallid shade closer to gray.

Slapping a coat of paint on the half-mile bridge is easier said than done. The 2002 paint job cost just shy of $3 million. Now, the Newport Southbank Bridge Company—the private nonprofit that owns and maintains the bridge—is seeking over $1 million for a new coat of that distinctive purple.

“People don’t realize the Purple People Bridge is privately owned,” says Joyce McMullin, co-administrator of the Newport Southbank Bridge Company. “It’s a nonprofit and all the money that we get from events that are held on the bridge goes back into the maintenance of the bridge.”

Indeed, every penny earned from events is spent on keeping the bridge open and accessible to the public. McMullin and Newport Southbank Bridge Company President Jack Moreland have worked hard to ensure the bridge has a steady stream of programming throughout the warmer months.

Events like the Party on the Purple series are returning among many others, but the bridge is still available to rent through the rest of the year. Every rental helps fund the Purple People Bridge’s maintenance and that fresh layer of paint.

“We want people to rent the bridge,” McMullin says. “We want them to know it’s available for use. Corporate events, weddings, private parties—it’s available.

“We’re open to any suggestions of things or events people want to do on the bridge. We’ll listen to anything and take a look at it.”

The Newport Southbank Bridge Company’s openness to creative use of the bridge is as much about allowing residents of both riverbanks to feel a sense of ownership as it is about ensuring revenue for the nonprofit.

“We really want both sides of the river to see the bridge as being an asset,” says Moreland.

The Purple People Bridge has been an arterial fixture connecting two vibrant and growing cities for years. Moreland and McMullin’s hope for their nonprofit is to preserve the bridge as a vital connector between Newport and Cincinnati while making it a destination itself.

“We view that as the definition of a vibrant community,” Moreland says.

Purple People Bridge events run the gamut from yoga sessions and happy hours to larger festivities like the American Heart Association’s Mini Marathon.

Moreland and McMullin are excited for what can be done in the future, such as developing creative LED lighting.

But securing the funds for repainting the bridge is the top priority and, though they’re working hard to fill up rentals to fund it, Moreland and McMullin hope the community can help with a portion of the cost.

There are two ways to contribute funds. The nonprofit has started a GoFundMe page with the goal of crowdsourcing 10 percent of the expenses, which can be found at It also accepts online donations through its website at

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