Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Wallenda successfully completes tightrope walk

LITTLE COLORADO RIVER GORGE, Ariz. — Daredevil Nik Wallenda successfully traversed Sunday night a quarter-mile-long tightrope stretched 1,500 feet above the Little Colorado River Gorge near the Grand Canyon.

Shortly before the walk, Wallenda described the stunt as "a dream come true.'"

During his walk across the wire, he frequently praised Jesus and once knelt and blew a kiss.

The 34-year-old Sarasota resident set out Sunday on a cable longer than four football fields stretched over the gorge that had been eyed by another high-wire performer decades ago but never completed.

The stunt came a year after Wallenda traversed Niagara Falls earning a seventh Guinness world record. He planned to use the same 2-inch-thick cable he used to cross the falls, only this time without any safety harness.

After saying a prayer, "I give my wife and kids a hug and a kiss and tell them I'll see them in a bit," he told reporters Friday in Flagstaff.

Wallenda is a seventh-generation high-wire artist and is part of the famous "Flying Wallendas" circus family — a clan that is no stranger to death-defying feats and great tragedy.

His great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, fell during a performance in Puerto Rico and died at the age of 73. Several other family members, including a cousin and an uncle, have perished while performing wire walking stunts.

Nik Wallenda, who was born a year after his great-grandfather died, began wire walking at the age of 2, on a 2-foot high stretched rope. He grew up performing with his family and has dreamed of crossing the Grand Canyon since he was a teenager.

French high-wire walker Philippe Petit had that same desire and set up a cable above the Little Colorado River, but Navajo officials said he never went through with the stunt and left his equipment there only to be taken down recently by Wallenda's crew.

"I don't understand why he didn't," Wallenda said. "It's a site that works, makes sense. He clearly failed at it, so I want to do it successfully."

Petit didn't return messages left by the Associated Press.

The Discovery Channel broadcast Wallenda's walk live on live television at 8 p.m. Sunday, but with a 10-second delay.

Wallenda was wearing two cameras, one looking down the mostly dry Little Colorado River bed and one facing straight ahead. He wore leather shoes with an elk-skin sole to help grip the cable.

Wallenda was highly confident in his ability to reach the other side, having walked in 52 mph wind gusts during Tropical Storm Andrea with a torrential downpour and training with wind machines that simulated 45-55 mph gusts.

Wallenda successfully completes tightrope walk 06/23/13 [Last modified: Monday, June 24, 2013 7:02am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning edges Red Wings on road

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — The digs were different, the Lightning seeing the masterfully-done new Little Caesar's Arena for the first time.

    Lightning center/Red Wings’ killer Tyler Johnson gets past defenseman Trevor Daley on his way to the first goal of the game.
  2. Armwood pulls away to defeat Plant 27-7, remain undefeated

    Footballpreps

    SEFFNER — First-year Armwood coach Evan Davis pulled out all the stops to get his team psyched for Monday's annual grudge match against Plant.

    Armwood defensive end Malcolm Lamar (97) gets fired up before the start of the game between Plant High School Panthers and the Armwood High School Hawks in Suffer, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
  3. Clearwater police: Car thief dead after owner fires gun

    Crime

    CLEARWATER — One man is dead after the owner of a car fired shots at the thieves who were stealing it Monday night, police said.

  4. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive

    World

    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  5. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.