Niagara Gazette

Local News

July 7, 2014

Nik is back in town; monument unveiled in his honor

Niagara Gazette — When Nik Wallenda came back to Niagara Falls on Monday the weather must have felt very familiar.

The same wind and mist that whipped around him on that wire, when he made his historic walk across Niagara Falls two years ago, returned like an old acquaintance and added to the nostalgia among those who had gathered to mark the occasion.

Wallenda and a crowd of dignitaries, community leaders and admirers, met near the brink of the falls on Goat Island to help unveil a monument placed near the spot where he took the first step on his journey over the water to Canada.

For those who helped change laws in two countries so he could make the crossing, it was a chance to remember, once again, the triumph that culminated on that mid-June night. It was also a time to remind locals, once again, about the possibility of getting a Wallenda performance center in downtown Niagara Falls.

State Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, who was the lead politician in the effort to legalize Nik's dream of crossing the falls on a wire, told a story about how Gov. Andrew Cuomo labored over allowing the stunt, calling Maziarz several times late one evening to say he was likely to veto the special bill. 

Maziarz drew a laugh from the crowd when he recalled finally saying to the governor, "Sign the bill. I guarantee the Canadians will never approve this thing."

The Canadians, who later did approve their own embattled version of the bill, were also present at the unveiling. 

"It didn't matter how big the mountain was," said Niagara Falls, Ont. mayor Jim Diodati. "When I got to know Nik as an individual I realized this guy is an incredible human being."

"We probably, between the two communities, got a billion dollars worth of advertising," added Kim Craitor who was a member of the Ontario Parliment and worked with Diodati to get Canadian approval for the walk. 

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