By Mark Scheer
NIAGARA FALLS —
When Nik Wallenda steps out onto a 2-inch round wire as part of an 1,800-foot journey across the Niagara Gorge later this year, he’s expected it to feel like just another day at the office.
The 33-year-old Wallenda, who has spent the bulk of his personal and professional life balancing on tightropes, told a crowd of reporters on Thursday that he’s excited about the opportunity to go where no one man has gone in more than 100 years and confident the more than 1 billion people expected to watch him worldwide will bring the right kind of attention to both sides of the border in Niagara Falls.
If the walk works out as planned, Wallenda said he’ll be looking to make Niagara Falls a more permanent home, a place where he can not only live, but perhaps show off his family’s high-wire walking lifestyle as part of an ongoing television series.
“I do plan on spending a lot of time in this community,” said Wallenda, a member of the famed Flying Wallenda circus family who has a five-year contract with the Discovery Channel. “This isn’t a one-off event where I’ll show up and do an event and be gone. I would like to make this my second home and bring a full-time show here that I would be performing throughout the season along with all my family members as well.”
First things first.
During a press conference at Niagara Falls International Airport, Wallenda said he would like to take his wire walk in June as he originally planned when he announced his interest last year. He said that may not be possible due to the length of time it took him to get the necessary clearances to move forward. More likely, Wallenda said, the event will happen in September, the final month in which he would be allowed to make the journey under legislation approved by New York lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year. Wallenda said he wants the community to be able to capitalize on the economic spinoff the walk is expected to bring and believes waiting until after the peak tourism months of July and August probably makes the most sense. He noted that those plans are not yet finalized.
Wallenda also does not yet know if he will walk from Table Rock in Ontario to Goat Island in New York or vice versa. He said weather conditions will determine which way he goes and a final decision be made within a week of the actual event. He did not rule out the possibility of severe weather conditions forcing him to alter his plans or delay his walk. He will wear a camera that will allow what he expects to be as many as 1 billion viewers see what he sees as he moves along. He will not, however, wear any sort of harness or safety device. He said he’s well-trained and doesn’t need to because walking a wire is basically his life.