Daredevil keeps hope alive for Niagara Falls high-wire act
An American daredevil's dream of walking across Niagara Falls on a tightrope may be one timid step closer to getting the go-ahead.
The Niagara Parks Commission recently turned down Nik Wallenda's bid to perform the stunt.
However, Wallenda met with Ontario Tourism Minister Michael Chan on Friday and spent two hours describing his ambitious plan.
"It was a great meeting. He seems like he understands where we're coming from and we're just excited to move this process forward," Wallenda told reporters after the meeting.
Wallenda said he received no commitment from Chan, and he wasn't expecting one. What he is hoping is that Chan will suggest the parks commission open the door to a second meeting with Wallenda.
"I'm hoping they'll open their doors again and I can possibly explain a little more in detail this entire event," he said.
Wallenda met with Chan along with Niagara MPP Kim Craitor, who supports the plan and asked Chan to sit down to discuss the concept.
Wallenda believes the stunt, which he wants to do in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, would bring in 125,000 people and result in a $120-million injection into the local economy.
"The question is, is this too big of an opportunity to turn down, and for me as the provincial member for Niagara Falls the answer is yes," Craitor said.
Wallenda said he has been walking tightrope since he was two years old, and has trained himself to grab the wire whenever he runs into trouble.
A walk across the falls, he said, would include helicopter support, constant contact with his safety team, and his harness would include a clip that could easily latch onto the wire if the situation became unsafe.
However, when the parks commission turned down the proposal after three weeks of study, the reason they gave was that the stunt simply didn't fit with the goal of celebrating the natural beauty of the falls.
The commission also said it didn't want to set a precedent that would make it difficult to turn down other similar requests for daredevil stunts.
"We respect his skills, his confidence in his abilities, we certainly recognize that. Simply it's not the right time for this for the Niagara Parks Commission," said commission chair Janice Thomson.
Wallenda is a seventh-generation member of the famous Flying Wallenda family of high wire performers.
His backup plan is to walk across the Niagara River between two points on the New York side, where the stunt has already been approved.
Wallenda, who lives in Florida, described his craft as a form of "artistic expression" that his family has nearly perfected over 200 years.
About a dozen people have walked across the falls on a wire, but none more recently than 125 years ago.