The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 25, 2012

Daredevil Nik Wallenda talks about world record Niagara Falls walk

Performer to be in Branson through Aug. 4

Step by step, suspended 200 feet above Niagara Falls, Nik Wallenda took just 25 minutes on June 15 to traverse a 2-inch wire from the United States into Canada.

When it was over, he had become the first person to walk across the falls on a wire, had established his sixth world record and was one of the most talked-about daredevils since the “gee-whiz” exploits of Evel Knievel during the 1970s.

Wallenda said the walk along the 1,800-foot-long wire while balancing a 40-pound pole was a childhood dream come true after months of “intense preparation and years of anticipation.”

“When I was 6 years old, my family went to Buffalo to see the falls for the first time; that was my first glimpse of it,” Wallenda, 33, said Monday from Branson, where he is performing with his family. “That’s when the dream set in; that’s when it became a lifelong goal.”

Others have walked across wires above the Niagara River, but never had anyone walked across the falls — in this instance, the raging waters of Horseshoe Falls.

“We’ve worked on this for a little over two years,” Wallenda said with a chuckle. It was an endeavor that caused him more than a few “headaches,” he said. Securing permission from U.S. and Canadian authorities — ending a 128-year-old ban on the Canadian side — proved the toughest. He also had to make a concession with ABC, which insisted that he wear a safety harness before the network would agree to televise his walk. The broadcast drew more than 13 million viewers from around the globe.

“Never in my life have I worn” a safety harness, he said. “I was more nervous about that safety harness than I was about the walk.”

During the walk, he put all the bureaucracy and the rules out of his mind.

“I was relaxed,” he said.” All the permitting was gone from my mind. All the financing was out of my head. It went very fast. I was in the zone, focused entirely on” the wire.

“It was very peaceful.”

On the far side, the paperwork returned. After he greeted his wife and family in Canada, a customs agent asked him for his passport, which he presented.

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