Nik Wallenda is the latest Niagara Falls daredevil having walked a wire over the Horseshoe Falls on June 15th, 2012. Nik Wallenda of course if the grandson of the great wire walker Karl Wallenda and a seventh generation member of the famous Flying Wallenda family.
Nik Wallenda became the first person to walk a wire directly over the Horseshoe Falls and he did it in style. ABC television carried the Wallenda walk live to a national audience and an estimated viewership of over 13 million people. On top of that there was over 100,000 people viewing the walk live on the Canadian side of the Falls and another 5,000 on the American side Goat Island where the walk began.
One caveat to the walk was the fact ABC forced Wallenda to wear a harness that would have prevented him from falling to his death if he had lost his footing. Wallenda fought the use of the harness right up to the night before the wire walk, but ABC refused to do the broadcast and pay Wallenda should he refuse.
To prepare for the walk over Niagara, Nik Wallenda had a similar wire installed about twenty feet in the air in the parking lot of the Seneca Niagara Casino. Wallenda practiced and “performed” on the duplicate wire for eleven days using fire hoses and a high-powered hydro-plane fan to creat conditions similar to what he would face on the real walk.
The night of the wire walk both New York and Ontario police marshaled their forces and provided tight security on both sides of the border. Local Buffalo TV and radio stations provided extensive live traffic coverage to inform people heading to Niagara Falls what the preferable routes were. Downtown Niagara Falls New York had vendors lined up along Rainbow Boulevard and Old Falls Street to accommodate the thousands of visitors.
Nik Wallenda began his walk just above the Horseshoe Falls and the distance was 1,500 feet across the widest part of the falls. The wire itself dipped some 35 feet in the middle meaning Wallenda’s first half of the walk was downhill and the second half was uphill.
As Nik Wallenda got to the end of of his walk he stopped, got down on one knee and blew a kiss to the crowd. Wallenda then got up, pumped his fist, and ran the final few steps completing the walk in twenty-six minutes.
On July 7th, 2014 a limestone and bronze monument was unveiled on Goat Island near the spot where Nik Wallenda began his wire walk two years earlier. The bronze plaque featured an engraved image of a photo of Wallenda’s walk taken by professional photographer James P. McCoy.