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. Now he now has his sights on Chicago's iconic skyscrapers partly because of the city's reputation for being windy.

The chance to walk between buildings 50 stories above the Windy City and over the Chicago River was just what he was looking for, Wallenda said Wednesday. He will attempt his Chicago walk Nov. 2. It will be broadcast on the Discovery Channel and shown in more than 200 countries.

"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 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. He said 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 (83)
  • MbeachAndrew
    9/23/2014 - 12:47 p.m.

    I think Nik Wallenda is acting selfishly and irresponsibly. Although he is an experienced highwire walker there still is a chance of failure. He wants to walk atop a highwire over fifty stories high, in windy and icy conditions. I believe this is irresponsible because he has a family to care for and if he were to fall they would be unable to support themselves.

  • Alec B. 12
    9/23/2014 - 12:49 p.m.

    Nik Wallenda is amazing! Crossing the Niagara Falls was awesome. If that were me I would have just been proud of myself and never risk my life like that again, but Nik Wallenda wants to do it again on a 15 degree incline, in Chicago's high winds, and doing it without a safety net or harness (though this is probably being too foolhardy). This guy really deserves a bunch of praise.

  • Jordan0423
    9/23/2014 - 01:29 p.m.

    I think it is very cool that Wallenda is willing to take this chance and tightrope walk from one building to another and he wants to do it without a net at the bottom. I realize that he thinks of tightrope walking as an art but what if he falls?

  • kcs4802
    9/23/2014 - 01:32 p.m.

    What I think about this article is that it sounds really death defying and cool to watch on national television. If I were to do some thing like this, I would start out by walking on a tight rope 10 feet between two trees and eventually I'll be able to conquer Niagra Falls. One thing I would ask the person who did this is what he started out with, because it would be nice to learn from a professional

  • Maya2002
    9/23/2014 - 02:37 p.m.

    Wow! That takes a whole lot of courage to do something like that. Crossing is one thing but what your crossing over is another....

  • Maya2002
    9/23/2014 - 02:37 p.m.

    Wow! That takes a whole lot of courage to do something like that. Crossing is one thing but what your crossing over is another....

  • ryan0420-yyca
    9/23/2014 - 09:09 p.m.

    I think the man is so weird and stupid because he is risking his life.I also think he is a daring man just to show off in my oppinon. If he wanted no safty net he is going against the law so he should be arrested. Why is the man wearing girl looking shoes? If the man dies how are they going to find his body for his funeral? Also the man should get the nets because it is his only saftey. This is all my reasons.

    • Tiffany0307-yyca
      1/06/2015 - 05:00 p.m.

      REBUTTAL:
      Ryan, the man is not weird or stupid. It might be his career or maybe he's not even scared at all. You are so rude also because I don't really think he should be arrested. Plus, how do you know if the man is going to die and the nets are his only safety. And I don't think everyone has to attend a funeral and not everyone has to search for the dead body.

  • ElleW-3
    9/23/2014 - 10:48 p.m.

    This article is about Nik Wallenda and how he tight ropes on wire across huge rivers, between huge skyscrapers, and through huge canyons. Nik and his family are very famous for there talents. The Wallenda family is known as the family of the sky because they walk the sky. I liked this article because not many people have this amazing talent. This shows that no matter how hard these obstacles may be Nik finds a way to do it.

  • Karena-OBr
    9/24/2014 - 01:53 p.m.

    I think weather is big problem becuse if its windy the person will have a harder time walking on the cable. If the weather is icy, cold and windy it will be really hard for Nik Wallenda. I think Nik Wallenda should have a safety net just in case the weather is bad. Weather is the biggest challenge because the weather might be so bad he might make a wrong move and fall. I think Nik Wallenda is really brave and talented to be able to do this kind of stuff.

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