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Wallenda nervous ahead of Niagara Falls tightrope walk
NIAGARA FALLS, New York |
NIAGARA FALLS, New York (Reuters) - Nik Wallenda, a member of the famed "Flying Wallendas" family of aerialists, admits to being nervous ahead of Friday night's historic attempt to walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope.
"It's more anticipation and eagerness, but it's all coming down to the wire, no pun intended," Wallenda, 33, told a news conference on Thursday.
Wallenda is set to walk from the U.S. side of the falls to the Canadian side, and said he will carry his passport. Television sponsors have insisted he wear a safety tether, a first for him, that will connect him to the cable should he fall.
Wallenda intends to walk a two-inch cable strung 1,800 feet through the mist over Niagara Falls Gorge, a feat never before attempted. The walk is 150 feet above the falls, he said.
More than a century ago, an aerialist known as the Great Blondin walked a high wire strung farther down the gorge, but a trek over the brink of the falls has never been attempted.
Wallenda is due to take his first measured steps on the wire just after 10 p.m. EDT, to be shown on ABC television with a five-second delay. Wallenda predicted that up to a billion people internationally would see his 45-minute stunt.
"Hopefully it will be very peaceful and relaxing," he said. "I'm often very relaxed when I'm on the wire."
He added, "There may be some tears because this is a dream of mine."
Since the Great Blondin took his high-wire walk, a ban has been in place on similar stunts over the famed falls. Wallenda waged a two-year crusade to convince U.S. and Canadian officials to let him try the feat.
Thousands of visitors are expected to watch in person on both the U.S. side and Canadian side of the falls. A private helicopter rescue team is part of the $1.3 million that Wallenda said he has spent on the walk.
Wallenda's great grandfather Karl Wallenda died in 1978 during a walk between two buildings in Puerto Rico at age 73. Wallenda repeated that walk last year with his mother.
Wallenda said he has obtained permits for a future walk over the Grand Canyon in Arizona, which would be the first ever attempted and roughly three times longer than the walk over Niagara Falls.
(Editing By Ellen Wulfhorst and Will Dunham)
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