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Wallenda visits Niagara Falls for first time since getting go-ahead for gorge walk

by jmaloni
Thu, Oct 20th 2011 03:20 pm

Nik Wallenda, "King of the Highwire," today joined state officials at the Seneca Niagara Hotel & Casino in Niagara Falls to further discuss plans to walk a tightrope across the Niagara Gorge. 

In September, Wallenda was given the green light from New York officials to proceed with the walk from the U.S. to Canada when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation allowing Wallenda to cross over Niagara Falls.  The State Legislature approved the measure in June and, according to the law, Wallenda will have one year to perform the walk.

"It's a pleasure to be here today," Wallenda said. "I have a feeling we're going to be seeing a lot more of each other in coming months."

State Sen. George D. Maziarz, sponsor of the legislation in the State Senate to allow the walk, was pleased with Nik's commitment to ensuring that any unresolved issues are addressed.

"Nik and his team traveled here many times to make the case for this undertaking and explain what it would entail," Maziarz said. "Now that the governor has signed the legislation, we need to keep the momentum going and convince the Canadians of the world-class attraction this event will be."

State Sen. Mark Grisanti, who represents Niagara Falls in the State Senate, said, "This will be an amazing moment for Nik Wallenda and the Wallenda family. Nik is an incredibly talented individual who is at the absolute top of his field. The whole world will be watching him. What better way to showcase the beauty of Niagara Falls?"

"I'm proud to stand with Nik Wallenda today as we plan for an event next year that will have the eyes of the world once again on Niagara Falls," said Assemblyman John Ceretto, who represents Niagara Falls in the State Assembly and is a co-sponsor of the legislation.  "This is the shot in the arm that our tourism industry needs and I'm excited to show off Niagara Falls to the world."

"Nik Wallenda's presence here today demonstrates his passion and dedication for his craft, as well as a commitment to Western New York," stated Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, sponsor of the legislation in the Assembly. "Such an event will showcase our area worldwide and give a much-needed economic boon. I urge our colleagues and friends across the border to permit this historic event to take place between the two countries."

The Wallenda event was endorsed recently by Jerry Genova, chairman of the Niagara Falls (USA) Tourism Advisory Board, who wrote in an op-ed piece for local newspapers that, "Such a performance would harken back to the highwire walking feats of Niagara's past while potentially expanding tourism business and exposure for Niagara Falls across the world. ... There is simply no way that a Wallenda trip across our gorge would fail to enthrall the world with its daring."

The event has also been supported publicly by John Percy, president and CEO of the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation, and Ron Anderluh, revitalization coordinator for the Niagara Street Business Association.

Wallenda's walk over the falls between the U.S. and Canada will be on a wire two inches in diameter and about 1,800 feet long. It would be the first wire walk in more than a century and more than 150 years after the "Great Blondin'' first tightrope-walked across the gorge.

"Walking into and out of the mist of Niagara Falls will be the culmination of a lifelong dream of mine," said Wallenda, who has been walking tightropes since he was 4 years old. "No matter how many walks I make in my lifetime, nothing can match the excitement and anticipation of walking across one of the greatest natural wonders in the world."

The walk still needs to be approved by Canadian officials. Wallenda and his team are scheduled to meet with Niagara Falls, Ontario, Mayor James Diodati and MPP Kim Craitor this afternoon at 3:30 p.m.

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