Niagara Gazette

Opinion

July 18, 2013

GLYNN: Wallenda book: A rare mix of religion and politics

Niagara Gazette — As readers might anticipate, Nik Wallenda’s new book about his career and famous family deals more with spiritual values and religion than the death-defying feats on the high wire.

“Balance: A Story of Faith, Family and Life on the Line” (Faith Words, 216 pages, hardcover, $22) delves deep into Wallenda’s  feelings about eternal salvation and his relationship with the Almighty. In fact, at times it might seem that you’re reading the memoirs of Trappist monk Thomas Merton (”Seven Storey Mountain”) or  televangelist Joel Osteen’s latest best seller. For the record, Faith Words is a major publisher of Christian books and Bibles.

Buried within the book — the second to last chapter — is the high wire artist’s June 2012 performance at Niagara Falls, when he walked the 1,800 feet from Terrapin Point above the Horseshoe Falls to the Table Rock area in Canada. A good deal of the chapter focuses on the way he was jerked around by the park commissions on both sides of the border, seeking permission to stroll across the Niagara Gorge.

It is common knowledge that Niagara Falls, Ont., Mayor Jim Diodati was a staunch booster of Wallenda’s proposal. The mayor went the extra mile to make certain that Nik made the right contacts in the often confusing permit process. In sharp contrast, the Niagara Parks Commission treated Wallenda (and his father) rudely when the pair attempted to explain their plan during a meeting. At one stage, the commission chair reportedly snarled, “You have one minute to wrap it up, Mr. Wallenda.” Wallenda’s father was offended when commission members called his son’s plan a stunt. “This is something our family has trained to do for over 200 years,” he shot back, “This isn’t crawling into a barrel and going over the edge of the falls. This is athleticism. This is artistry.”

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