"I'm afraid of heights, but in the spirit of Outward Bound, I challenged myself to do something that I would never do," Haslem said.
With a focus on environmental awareness and stewardship, the school provides challenging outdoor learning experiences to help build character in Philadelphia public- and charter-school students.
After brief training atop One Logan Square, at 18th and Cherry Streets, participants, including Mayor Nutter and State Sen. Vincent Hughes, descended to the ground, with some trips taking up to 20 minutes.
Each participant agreed to raise $2,000 for Outward Bound for the opportunity to descend 30 stories of a sheer glass-and-concrete building along a few slender ropes.
After a brief but thorough lesson, the adventurers were outfitted with the necessary gear, including a body harness, sling, metal clips, gloves, and a helmet. Then they were attached to the ropes.
There were no safety nets.
On the ground, there was a carnivallike atmosphere.
A DJ played a mix of vintage pop and hip-hop, as dozens of people on their lunch breaks took photographs with cellphones.
"Oh, my gosh, it was exhilarating, unlike any experience I've ever had," Michelle Haslem said. "I loved the view."
Getting past her initial fear was difficult, she said. "It was hard at first getting over the edge, but once I got going, it was great."
Nutter, who also rappelled last year, made the descent in a relatively swift 10 minutes. He noted that organizers this year chose a building 11 stories taller.
"The most interesting part, in addition to being on the side of a building, is seeing people in their offices," Nutter said. "Some knew we were coming. And some seemed rather surprised to see a guy hanging outside their window."
Organizers said the event, in its second year, would raise about $200,000.
Katie Newsom Pastuszek, executive director of Philadelphia Outward Bound, said the event is an important fund-raiser that reflects the spirit of Outward Bound.
"We are doing this event because it requires participants to do something challenging and adventurous, and that's who we are," Pastuszek said. "We're all about changing lives through challenge and discovery."