The Wallenda family is not a new entity in stunt performing; as far back as the 1920s, the Wallendas have been making a living as highwire daredevils and circus performers. It was always expected that Nik Wallenda would follow in the family business – technically it could be said his first highwire experience was while still in the womb when his mother performed on the wire until the sixth month of her pregnancy – and he never shirked from the danger or the attention.
His most famous feat was the 2012 performance at Niagara Falls when he walked a wire directly over the famous chain of waterfalls. It was an enormous challenge two years in the making, with both Nik’s training and preparations and the extensive political lobbying that was required with both the US and Canadian governments.
The 1800 foot trek over the falls had full coverage and Nik became an international name after he completed the feat unscathed. He wrote about the Niagara walk and his daredevil career in the 2013 memoir Balance: A Story of Faith, Family and Life (2013 FaithWords). The Science Channel attempted a reality show featuring Nik and his family, but only aired a handful of episodes (under multiple names, including Nik Wallenda: Beyond Niagara) before cancellation.
Since Walking Across Niagara Falls
Since 2012 Nik has sought to top the standard set by the Niagara tightrope walk as well as regularly make a living doing what he loves on the tightrope. His most iconic achievement since the Niagara walk was on June 23, 2013, when he performed a tightrope walk across the massive canyon containing the Colorado River in Arizona – a walk 1400 feet long, and 1500 feet off the ground with winds up to 30 miles per hour.
The event was billed as the ‘Grand Canyon Walk’ even though the river’s gorge technically isn’t part of the Grand Canyon. Regardless, the marketing campaign drew millions and the successful walk became the Discovery Channel’s highest rating broadcast at that time.
Since then Nik has continued to perform regularly in the United States. On 1 September 2014 he completed a summer show at Darien Lake Amusement Park in the US state of New York, and in the summer he’d also made intermittent appearances around the state, including a 1400 foot tightrope walk at the Eire Country Fair in the NY town of Hamburg – one of the few occasions he’d had a net underneath, as required by New York state law.
His next major walk after New York is planned for Chicago, but he’s often remarked on his plans to return to Niagara for more shows and to set up his own tourist attraction, honouring stuntmen such as those in his family tree. Although the plans he’s harboured for this tourist attraction for years still hasn’t materialised, his attitude is the same as with all his other endeavours: ‘Never give up’.
Trace Nik’s footsteps (on the ground at least) by visiting Niagara Falls. Stay at the 4-star,World Class Marriott on the Falls Niagara Falls Hotel