Nik Wallenda Makes First Tightrope Walk Across Niagara Falls
Wallenda, the seventh generation of the Flying Wallendas high-wire act, covered the 1,800 feet (549 meters) in 25 minutes and 19 seconds, walking the two-inch wire in elkskin-soled shoes and using a balance beam.
“This is what dreams are made of, people,” said Wallenda as he stepped onto the wire on the U.S. side of the river.
Wallenda, 33, said he was unprepared for the heavy mist and winds above the falls that plagued his walk.
“The mist was so challenging and the winds hit me, definitely more than I expected,” he said after dismounting the wire on the Canadian side. “It was definitely those winds, you can’t re-enact them, you can’t recreate them. Then my forearms started to tense up and you feel like running.”
Wallenda, who pranced the final feet of his walk, stepped onto Canadian soil and was immediately asked for his passport, which he pulled from a protective pouch in his jacket.
“A lot of praying helped me a lot,” he said when he reached safety. “In the middle of the wire, I started thinking about my great-grandfather.”
An estimated crowd of 125,000 people on the Canadian side and 4,000 on the American side watched Wallenda’s stunt last night, the Associated Press said.
ABC televised the walk, insisting Wallenda use a tether to prevent him from plunging into the roaring waters of the falls should he fall. He agreed to the condition set by the network, which sponsored his feat and helped defray some of the $1.3 million cost, AP said.
Other tightrope walkers have crossed the Niagara River. No one before Wallenda, who needed more than a year to secure permission from the U.S. and Canada to attempt the feat, had crossed at the falls.
Wallenda said the family’s legacy for performing daredevil stunts “has been brought up a notch. That’s what this is all about, paying tribute to my ancestors, and my hero, Karl Wallenda.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Nancy Kercheval in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at email@example.com