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See the First Niagara Falls Tightrope Walk in 100 Years This Summer

By SHANNON KELLY


Wallenda performing in Canada’s Wonderland in 2009.

The Ontario Niagara Parks Commission voted unanimously last week to allow tightrope walker Nik Wallenda to cross Niagara Falls via high wire.

As recently as two months ago, Niagara Parks’ answer was an emphatic “no” to Wallenda’s request to walk an 1,800-foot-long tightrope between Table Rock in Canada and Goat Island in the U.S. New York State approved the walk last year.

Why the change of heart? Wallenda provided a more convincing argument this time around, according to commission chairwoman Janice Thomson, with more details and assurances of safety measures. But the commission has decided that these type of stunts will only be considered every 20 years.

Nik Wallenda performing in Pittsburgh in 2009 (Photo: J. Strakey)

Subtext: If you want to see a high-wire act over the Falls, you’d better book your trip now.

No date is set for the walk yet, but Wallenda has suggested early September while Niagara Parks has mentioned June. Estimates (by Wallenda and his team) are that the event could draw some 120,000 spectators and bring in $20 million to the parks in one day. Wallenda will not be paid for the feat.

Wallenda is a seventh-generation member of the famous circus family known for its Flying Wallendas act.

Niagara Falls has long a long history of run-ins with daredevils performing death-defying (and not-so-death-defying) stunts, including the many infamous attempts at going over the fall in a barrel. Tightrope walkers have tacked the Niagara Gorge in the past, the first being “the Great Blondin”, Jean François Gravelet, in 1859. Tightrope walks at Niagara Falls were outlawed in the late 19th century in both Canada and the U.S.

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