Famed daredevil Nic Wallenda’s dream of crossing Niagara Falls on a tightrope is closer than ever to being a reality. Last week, Governor Cuomo signed into law a bill I authored which could clear the way for him to do so (Ch. 572 of 2011).
Wallenda has not yet obtained permission from Canadian officials, which he will need in order to cross Horseshoe Falls, an 1,800-foot-wide cataract between the United States and Canada. Canadian officials have a long history of denying such requests. However, Wallenda has stated that in the event of a denial, he will simply keep his walk confined to the United States and walk over the American Falls, though they are neither as wide nor as magnificent as Horseshoe Falls.
There has been a long history of Falls-based daredevil acts. Arguably the most notorious of all Niagara’s daredevils was Jean Francois Gravelot, nicknamed “The Great Blondin”. On June 30, 1859, he successfully crossed the Niagara River on a tightrope. That same summer, he completed eight more crossings, including one with his manager on his back. Others have followed suit, but none as famous as The Great Blondin. Such acts have been prohibited since the early 1900s.
Nic Wallenda is a seventh-generation tightrope walker of the famed “Flying Wallendas” family. He holds a staggering six Guinness World Records, including one for the longest distance and greatest height traveled on a tightrope via bicycle. The crowds that this event would draw could be massive, which would provide a substantial economic boost to the Western New York area. These visitors will be patronizing our hotels, restaurants and local shops.
The wire Wallenda plans to walk across is five centimeters wide and 550 meters long, and will be anchored by weights on each side. His team will provide security and cover all related costs, so as not to put a drain on our resources nor Canada’s, should they agree to participate. Additionally, he will be accompanied by his own safety team, comprised of divers, engineers and a rescue helicopter.
The date of Wallenda’s walk has yet to be determined. He has until Aug. 30, 2012, to complete it, which is the law’s expiration date. I am thrilled that such an exciting and prosperous event is coming to our area, and I wish Mr. Wallenda the best of luck in his endeavor.