Column by Don Glynn — There’s a new breed of sidewalk superintendents in downtown Niagara Falls.
Unlike the typical work site — watching hardhats skillfully putting steel beams in place — all eyes Saturday were glued to tightrope artist Nick Wallenda strolling on a 2-inch cable linked to two giant construction cranes.
Most of the several hundred spectators watched almost in reverent silence as he gingerly took one step at a time. The comments ranged from “Oh, my God! I’ve never seen anything like this!” to “This is going to be great. It’s what Niagara Falls needs.”
One smart aleck kid shouted, “Don’t die!”
The stage was set for Wallenda to begin training for his 1,800-foot walk June 15 across the Niagara Gorge, in front of the Horseshoe Falls, between Terrapiin Point on Goat Island and Table Rock House on the Ontario side of the 175-foot waterfall.
While the mid-June event, complete with international media coverage, is estimated to draw 125,000 spectators (a Kentucky Derby crowd) to the falls that day, upwards of 300 million other people may view it on television.
For the next couple of weeks, the city’s South End tourist district will undoubtedly have a steady influx of visitors hoping to see Wallenda practice. The schedule calls for him to perform daily, from 10:30 a.m. to noon and 3:30 to 5 p.m.
There are numerous vantage points around the plaza in front of the Seneca Niagara Casino. The starting point is from a vacant lot south of the plaza, the former site of a Holiday Inn. The slightly uphill route ends at the north end of the plaza, near Wendel Way and the Seneca Niagara Office Building.
Obviously small business people should expect to benefit from the influx as well. They include Mark and Michael DiFranesco, co-owners of The Daredevil Museum, Rainbow Boulevard, and Michael Murphy, who operates Murphy’s Cafe, Third Street. They’re ideally positioned to attract the Wallenda fans.