Wallenda: Spectacle, legacy inspire Chicago walk Tightrope walker Nik Wallenda walks the high wire from the U.S. side to the Canadian side over the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario in 2012 (Reuters)
Wallenda: Spectacle, legacy inspire Chicago walk
Lexile

Nik Wallenda is a showman who crossed Niagara Falls and an Arizona gorge on a high wire and now has his sights on Chicago's iconic skyscrapers partly because of the city's reputation for being windy.

The chance to tread between buildings 50 stories above the Windy City and over the Chicago River amid glittering lights and on live television aired in 220 countries was just the kind of encore he was looking for, Wallenda said Wednesday, one day after announcing his Nov. 2 feat that will be broadcast on the Discovery Channel.

"I enjoy taking it up a notch," Wallenda, 35, a member of "The Flying Wallendas" family, told The Associated Press. "Chicago is home of the world's first skyscraper and my family is often referred to as the first family of the high wire. Then there's the Windy City ... which just sounds cool: Nik Wallenda is going to walk in the Windy City."

He plans to traverse between one of the city's Marina Towers, twin corncob-shaped buildings on the north side of the river, to the 635-foot-tall Leo Burnett Building, without a harness or net. It will be the second-highest walk of his career, after the Little Colorado River Gorge, near the Grand Canyon. And will be done at a 15-degree incline, steeper than any previous walk. Wallenda then will cross the river at ground level and make a second tightrope walk between Marina Towers.

Wallenda said weather always is his biggest challenge. So he'll practice at his training camp in Sarasota, Florida. There he uses wind machines that can be cranked up to 120 mph, though he won't attempt the actual feat if winds are over 50 mph.

On the day of his walk, "it just becomes nothing but a mental game," he said. "I know I can walk the distance, I know I can walk on the cable ... I know I can walk uphill, but then there's the mental challenge and my mind wants to wander, like: What if it's cold? And what if it's wet and icy?"

Wallenda said he's had the full cooperation of Chicago officials. He'd like to make the walk without a safety net. Although the nets are a state law, he hopes officials will allow him not to use one.

"It's art to me," he said "I'm painting a picture, hopefully an inspirational picture (for people) that no matter what their dreams are that they can fulfill them ... as long as they work hard enough at it."

"I just follow my heart and what I feel will be fascinating," said Wallenda. "I do what I feel will inspire and impress people; that's my job as an entertainer."

Critical thinking challenge: Why is weather always the biggest challenge?

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COMMENTS (15)
  • Adi5667
    9/23/2014 - 12:34 p.m.

    My opinion on this article is that tight rope walking is all fun and games until someone falls. He should not risk walking in the Windy City without a harness or net, even if he has walked over the Niagara Falls. It isn't only dangerous for him, if he falls he could seriously hurt or scar many people in the adience. He is not only risking his life, but risking the mental stability of everyone watching. What will happen if they watch a man fall from the wire and die.

  • jaimel00
    9/24/2014 - 01:19 p.m.

    This man is absolutely crazy to just go across Niagra Falls, on a wire . Now he wants to do the same on a fifty foot buildings .

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    9/24/2014 - 01:25 p.m.

    This is such a crazy thing to do, but his message behind it is amazing. I think that him wanting to inspire other people through what she does automatically makes him inspiring.

  • MGregory-Sti
    9/25/2014 - 09:51 a.m.

    i think hes crazy whats he doing because he is risking his life on those ropes trying to go to the other side and hes to high up when he does it he might die one of these days

  • tevinb3
    9/25/2014 - 10:41 a.m.

    i would not walk a 635 feet tall role because if i slip i will die and i dont wanna die.its like walking on a 50 stories buildings and jumping off. you go 50 mph across it its to fast and high

  • alexam7
    9/25/2014 - 01:05 p.m.

    A man is going to walk om the windy city he plans to traverse one of the city's Marina Towers.The wind the wind can go up to 120mph

  • ShaniaWentz-Ste
    9/25/2014 - 01:19 p.m.

    I am personally afraid of heights. So the night that he attempted the walk across the grand canyon, I was terrified to watch. But, I maned up, and I watched it. It was crazy how he could do that. I would never have the guts. Unless it's a building or a roller coaster ride, I'll stick to ground level.

  • BrigitteA-3
    9/25/2014 - 11:46 p.m.

    Nick Wallenda is a showman who loves to impress people by doing amazing and risky stunts, whether it is walking on a high wire over the treacherous Niagara Falls, or in this case, 50 story tall buildings in Wind City. This high wire stunt will be the second tallest of his whole career. In order to prepare for this risky journey, Nick Wallenda will train at a special stunt camp where he can crank up winds up to 120 mph so that he can prepare for the weather he might run into. Wallenda would like to try the stunt without the safety net, but due to a law requiring it he won't have a lot of luck. This showman is hoping that by doing these stunts he will send a message, that no matter how wild someones dream can be anyone can reach their goal by hard work. I love how someone is able to risk their life and have fun doing it, while sending a positive message. I think that this should be promoted more so that kids of all ages can learn that no dream is too big to achieve their goals.

  • LaurelM-4
    9/26/2014 - 09:44 a.m.

    Nik Wallenda, a showman, is planning to high wire across Chicago's skyline. He has high wired across Niagara Falls and a gorge by the Grand Canyon but he plans to take it up a notch with this walk. His walk will be aired on the Discovery Channel on November 2. Wallenda says his biggest challenge is the wind which is usually at a high level in Chicago. I think that this is very crazy although it's very inspirational. Even though I won't be high wiring above Niagara Falls anytime soon, it makes me think about living in the moment . I only have one live so why not make the most of it.

  • brandonj-Koc
    9/26/2014 - 10:20 a.m.

    Nik Wallenda has extreme talent in tightrope walking this takes very good balance and he must be in really good shape to perform at his peak such as when he walked across niagra falls and the grand canyon proves he has a legacy that will be carried on and is an art form.

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