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High-wire star Nik Wallenda brings drive-in stunt show back to Sarasota

The audience will each have their own parking spots to watch daredevil performers overhead.
Nik Wallenda walks the high wire during his self produced Daredevil Rally last June. He is bringing the socially distant drive-in stunt show back to Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota.
Nik Wallenda walks the high wire during his self produced Daredevil Rally last June. He is bringing the socially distant drive-in stunt show back to Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Feb. 18

When cancellations prompted by the coronavirus pandemic upended the entertainment world last year, world famous high-wire performer Nik Wallenda set up a drive-in stunt show at a Sarasota park in June. The show, one of the first in-person entertainment events in months, sold out.

Now Wallenda’s back in his hometown for another two weekends, Feb. 26-28 and March 4-7, at Sarasota’s Nathan Benderson Park. The show will again star him and his wife, Erendira, who, like her husband, is a Guinness World Record holder for aerial stunts. There will also be FMX jumpers and BMX riders who have starred in the X-Games, motorcycles in a steel globe and the human cannonball David “The Bullet” Smith, a Guinness record holder as the highest and farthest flying cannonball of all time.

Fans watch stunt performers during Nik Wallenda's Daredevil Rally last June. Like drive-in movies, the audience tunes into a radio station to hear the performance. Wallenda uses a microphone the audience can hear as he goes across the high wire at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota.
Fans watch stunt performers during Nik Wallenda's Daredevil Rally last June. Like drive-in movies, the audience tunes into a radio station to hear the performance. Wallenda uses a microphone the audience can hear as he goes across the high wire at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

Like drive-in movies, the audience will tune into a radio station to hear the performance. Wallenda will use a microphone the audience can hear as he goes across the high wire, similar to his special high-wire walks that have been televised on ABC, NBC and the Discovery Channel. There will also be a fair-like food court selling classics like funnel cakes and fried goodies.

“Rest assured, we’ll be applying social distancing as it relates to vehicle placement in the park,” Wallenda said. “That’s a critical safety component.”

Wallenda has had more than his share of daredevil moments. He has walked above the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and downtown Chicago. Most recently, he walked 1,800-feet above the Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua, which has an active lava lake. And last week he was back in Florida at Legoland, where he walked 500 feet over the theme park to mark the debut of Legoland’s PirateFest Watersports Stunt Show.

FMX jumpers and BMX riders who have starred in the X-Games are part of Nik Wallenda's Daredevil Rally, which returns for two weekends to Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota.
FMX jumpers and BMX riders who have starred in the X-Games are part of Nik Wallenda's Daredevil Rally, which returns for two weekends to Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

Wallenda belongs to the seventh generation of a family with a storied circus history. Best known as “The Flying Wallendas,” it started with his great-grandfather Karl Wallenda, who performed dangerous stunts, often without a safety net. He died at the age of 73 when he fell as he attempted a walk between two towers of a 10-story hotel in Puerto Rico in 1978.

“We’re really excited to bring this terrific show back to my hometown,” said Wallenda. “We will feature some performers that were not here last year, which I’m confident the fans will enjoy tremendously.”

If you go

Daredevil Rally Drive-in Thrill Show: High-wire star Nik Wallenda and a troupe of daredevils will perform while the audience watches from their cars or lawn chairs within their parking space.

When: 5 p.m.Feb. 26, 1 and 5 p.m. Feb. 27-28. And also at 5 p.m. March 4-5, and at 1 and 5 p.m. March 6-7.

Where: Nathan Benderson Park, 5851 Nathan Benderson Circle, Sarasota.

Tickets: $20 per person, $50 VIP front row; $99 family six-pack. There are other ticket packages available at daredevilrally.com or by calling 941-870-7444.