Daredevil walks on wire between two skyscrapers Nik Wallenda walks across the Chicago skyline blindfolded (AP photos for Discovery Communications)
Daredevil walks on wire between two skyscrapers
Lexile

Nik Wallenda wowed Chicago and the world Sunday with two hair-raising skyscraper crossings on high wires without a safety net or a harness. He even performed one crossing blindfolded.

"I feel incredible," Wallenda told reporters after completing the tightrope walks.

Recalling what made him nervous during his aerial performances, he said strong winds and the steeper-than-expected angle of the first high wire caused him to hurry his performance. Wallenda had practiced at a 15-degree angle but said the wire was actually at 19 degrees.

"That cable looked like it was going straight up," he said.

Thousands of cheering fans packed the streets around the city's Marina City towers. They watched the 35-year-old heir to the Flying Wallendas' family business complete the back-to-back walks.

"I love Chicago and Chicago definitely loves me," said Wallenda as he walked the wire, with the crowd below him screaming in support. "What an amazing roar!"

Wearing a bright red jacket, Wallenda tested the tension of the first wire. It took him about six and a half minutes to walk the 454 foot stretch from the Marina City west tower to the top of a building on the other side of the river. The tightrope began at 588 feet from the ground and ended at 671 feet.

The next stage of Wallenda's high-wire event he undertook blindfolded. It was a 94-foot walk 543 feet from the ground between the two Marina City towers. At a fast clip, he made the stretch in little more than a minute.

As he stepped from the wire, he tore off his blindfold. He waved and the crowd erupted in cheers.

The Discovery Channel used a 10-second delay for the broadcast. That would have allowed producers to cut away if anything went wrong. Chicago city officials ignored a state law requiring safety nets for aerial acts higher than 20 feet. Officials said the law wasn't intended for "elite" performers.

Just minutes before the anticipated start of his high-wire feat, Wallenda, who lives in Florida, said the chilly conditions in Chicago would not stall him.

"Yes there's some wind, yes it's cool, but it's not unbearable," he said. Just two days earlier, the city had been beset with gusty winds, snow, hail and driving rain.

Cynthia Garner traveled 90 miles from Belvidere, Illinois, with her husband Johnny to watch the event.

"It was amazing. I saw it with my own eyes," Garner said. "I was afraid when he first started. But once I saw that he didn't hesitate and just walked, I wasn't scared for him no more."

A year before Wallenda was born, his great-grandfather Karl Wallenda fell to his death during a tightrope stunt in Puerto Rico. He was 73.

What's next? Wallenda has said he wants to recreate a 1,200-foot-long high-wire walk made famous by his great-grandfather. The stunt at Tallulah Falls Gorge in Georgia included two headstands on the high wire.

Critical thinking challenge: Why did Nik wear a red jacket?

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COMMENTS (226)
  • wyattg-Tho
    11/04/2014 - 11:47 a.m.

    Its Chicago's colors like the Chicago bulls their colors are red and white. He never did mention anything about his coat. That would be very helpful nothing in the article except the city he is in.

  • Chrispa-Fre
    11/04/2014 - 12:06 p.m.

    Well Wallenda those are some amazing things that you have accomplished. You have walked between skyscrapers without hesitation. He even undertook wearing a blind fold on the second part of the event, and topping that he completed the walk in under a minute. A lot of people were there in Chicago on the cold, windy night and even with the conditions Mr. Wallenda was able to accomplish this feat. Great job Wallenda we are all proud!

  • Tigers9
    11/04/2014 - 12:06 p.m.

    He is really brave to that blindfolded, i think nobody would do that. He is really good walking on wire across places. He is a true dare devil.

  • 21ajmich
    11/04/2014 - 12:09 p.m.

    WOW! I can't believe he did that blindfolded and without a harness. Also on a climb. If I was one of his kids I would of been so scared to watch my dad do that. I also can't believe that generations of this in his family has been going on.

  • Daniadu-Fre
    11/04/2014 - 12:09 p.m.

    Wow!! I am completely wowed right now. If I were to do that I would have chickened out. Nik Wallenda must have some serious guts to pull that stunt off. But i think i know why he wanted to do that. I think he wanted to do that because he wanted to follow his great-grandfather karls footsteps. But who could blame him i would do that to if i was not to scared and if i actually knew my great-grandfather.

  • 21jafalc
    11/04/2014 - 12:09 p.m.

    I think it is cool that someone is trying to walk a line from one building to another. I hope that this guy makes it across the building safely and doesn't fall of and die. I hope that this guy gets an award for risking his life to do something that is amazing . I hope he wins a metal or something.

  • 21jmborm
    11/04/2014 - 12:10 p.m.

    That is kind of scary! i would never do it. I cant believe he crossed 2 sky scrapers! he was blind folded on a wire walking! i mean, i would do this for like 3 million dollars to spend on my family. But rather than that... never!

  • 21amtrud
    11/04/2014 - 12:10 p.m.

    This is very cool! I would be way to scared to ever even try this! Nik Wallenda walked from one skyscraper, then to another! He walked 94 feet to go from building to building! He was 543 feet above from the ground! That is amazing!!!

  • 21bslama
    11/04/2014 - 12:11 p.m.

    so epic how did he do it must be like 1000 feet lol. but how did he do it blindfolded that is incredible

  • 21djpepi
    11/04/2014 - 12:11 p.m.

    This guy is totally crazy! Why in the world would he cross two skyscrapers, on a tightrope, while blindfolded! Luckily, this brave and bazaar man, made it across the rope without falling to his death! This man had 3 kids at home practically watching him die, but thank the Lord he survived! Wow, I'm in awe!

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