Wrong time for this type of celebration

A big building calls for a big celebration. But when the building is a bank – and its grand opening comes amid a banking meltdown – falling bodies send the wrong message.

Therefore, the skydivers at today's RBC Plaza opening are canceled.

“Given the recent market activities, we just didn't think it was an appropriate time to have people jumping off of a bank building,” said Jamie Averette Mitchell, a spokeswoman for RBC Bank, which today is dedicating its downtown Raleigh headquarters, the 33-story RBC Plaza.

The parachuters were to be part of a series of grand-opening events. The idea was that they would draw attention to the tower, the region's tallest.

But RBC nixed the jumpers after a week of Wall Street turbulence, which included the worst point drop ever of the Dow Jones Industrial average and the announced sale of Charlotte banking giant Wachovia to Citigroup for a mere $2.1 billion.

The celebratory leap might have reminded some of the bankers and stockbrokers who jumped from buildings during the Depression. They didn't wear parachutes.

Mitchell said, “We wanted to be very respectful of our financial partners and Wachovia,” whose name is emblazoned on a nearby downtown tower.