By Michele DeLuca
Niagara Gazette —
Aerialist Nik Wallenda returned to Niagara Falls on Friday and gave his word, once again, that his plans for a Falls performance area are still in the works.
The daredevil, who left the city so triumphantly last June after crossing the Niagara Gorge on a two-inch wire, held a press conference on Friday to talk about several things, including his new book, his upcoming walk over the Grand Canyon on June 23 and the probability of some sort of tented site being erected in the city where he will be able to perform on a regular basis.
The press conference, held at the visitor's center near the falls in the state park, attracted a throng of local media. Wallenda was introduced by state Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, who called Wallenda "The best PR person the city of Niagara Falls has in the entire world."
Maziarz — known to be one of the politicians responsible for clearing the path of red tape to make Wallenda's walk possible after local developer Roger Trevino approached the aerialist about coming to the city — cited a national morning news show appearance by the daredevil this Monday in which half of the interview was about his Niagara Falls feat.
Maziarz announced that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state parks Commissioner Rose Harvey have approved a monument to be created in the park at the site where Wallenda made his historic walk. He said it will likely to be a stone with a plaque and a piece of the actual wire used in the feat.
Wallenda, in town to accept an "Visionary" award, to hence be named in his honor, from the Niagara USA Chamber, took the microphone and announced his new book was making its debut on June 6. It will be titled "Balance: A Story of Faith, Family and Life on the Line." The front cover shows Wallenda on a wire over the gorge.
When asked whether he considered his upcoming Grand Canyon walk more dangerous than crossing the gorge, Wallenda said "I have to take them all seriously," adding that Friday was the 35th anniversary of the death of his grandfather, who died in Puerto Rico during a ten-story high promotional walk at age 70.
His grandfather fell to his death because he did not wear a tether, but the daredevil has always insisted that wearing the tether during his Niagara Falls walk was the only downside of the experience. The walk across the Grand Canyon in June will be made without a tether, which Wallenda held is a point of pride for himself and his family members.
One of the first questions he was asked during a media question-and-answer session was about the semi-permanent structure he has talked of erecting on the American side of Niagara Falls this summer.
"I'm a man of my word," he said. "I've proven that," he added, noting that a 1,600 seat tent will be up if not this summer then next summer. He said he hoped the attraction could eventually be upgraded with zip lines and other interactive family attractions, noting that when he and his family stayed in Niagara Falls last summer, there was not much for his children to do.
"It's something we're actively working on," he said. "We need to have more definitive answers very soon," he said about the project, which he added would require no public money. It is his hope, he said, that a deal could be made as soon as possible. "We need to be able to promote it and get the word out," he said.
He assured those assembled that the attraction would be built on the American side of the falls. "This is the side that clearly needs it," he said, adding that he hoped his persistance in following his dreams and being true to his word would continue to be an inspiration for those facing challenges.
"Every single one of us has challenges," he said. "Focus on your goals."