Niagara Gazette — As 4,000 watched on Goat Island, and millions more tuned in around the world, Nik Wallenda stepped carefully onto his wire and into history books as he began his successful attempt to walk over the falls to Canada in June.
As he moved through the mist on that cool, late spring night, he joined a small legion of daredevils who have attempted stunts at the legendary waterfalls since record keeping began.
Niagara Falls spent that evening aglow in the global spotlight, not just on televisions tuned to the live ABC broadcast, but on social networking sites including Twitter, where it “trended” worldwide, a feat more often reserved for large sporting events like the Superbowl or the Olympics.
And while no strong evidence is available to determine the long-range impact of the historic walk, no one can deny that the three-hour television special and the eruption of tweets reminded people around the world of Niagara Falls as a potential travel destination.
The Wallenda impact still is being measured, but one survey — conducted shortly after the event by the Niagara University College of Hospitality and Tourism Management — showed the economic impact of Wallenda’s performance was $3.3 million from the three-day period starting June 15. The survey also disclosed that the event attracted at least 38,000 people to the region.
In August, Wallenda returned to Goat Island to reaffirm his expressed desire to create a permanent presence on the American side of the Falls. Standing with him was state Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, the first government official to listen to Wallenda and help him obtain his dream of walking over Niagara Falls.
These days Maziarz is working to assist Wallenda in creating a permanent site in the city such as a museum, an entertainment center or performance area.
“After he does the Grand Canyon walk in June, he would like to come right back here and do something,” Maziarz said recently, adding Wallenda has looked at a couple of downtown properties and has met with at least one developer.