Thursday, June 13, 2013

Skywire Training

Nik Wallenda
No, Sparky hasn't lost her mind and started wire walking. You know, we are here in Sarasota, home of the circus and Nik Wallenda of the famous Wallenda family, who have been wire walking for many many years in the circus and other venues. Nik is getting to be more of a celebrity these days because he is personable and wonderful at self-promotion-- in a good way. He's working on making the "Great Wallendas" family more well known in the tech age through his interviews and events. Nik's great grandfather was the famous Karl Wallenda, who fell to his death walking between two hotels in Puerto Rico in 1978. The Great Wallendas are known for their 7 chair pyramid performances among other great acts in the heyday of circus performing.

Nik is modernizing the old circus tight rope/wire walking act in a BIG way lately.  He walked the wire at Niagara Falls last year, one of the highest rated TV media events of the decade. He was made to wear a tether during that walk. The story is that during a previous wire walking event he asked a buddy of his if he wanted to see Nik make the crowd gasp, so  he faked a misstep. Because of that, officials made him wear a tether. This year he's walking (a 2" circumference cable wire) at the Grand Canyon on June 23rd, no tether, no safety net of any kind. The walk will be 1500 feet high over the Little Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, the highest walk he's ever done and it will be televised on the Discovery Channel.

He's practicing daily here in Sarasota, at the new Nathan Benderson Park, a new park under development and future site of many rowing events. He's up on the wire at 10:30 AM and again around 6:00 PM Tuesday through Saturday this week at the park to prepare for the Grand Canyon walk.

We went to see him today....He's a terrific guy, VERY personable....He talked to the crowd the whole time as he walked the wire back and forth today....

It's not very high, about 30 feet in the air, but he said while he's on it, it's 100% mental preparation--he envisions himself walking the Grand Canyon. He said when he does the Grand Canyon walk later this month, he'll be envisioning himself walking the practice wire at Benderson Park.

In the previous walk over highway 41 Tamiami Trail in Sarasota, there were guide wires and guys holding them down on the ground. In the canyon, he is going to have counterweights hanging on the cable to help with sway and movement of the cable.

Sparky asked, "Are we distracting you with these questions?" and he said to all of us watching, "No, thanks for asking. I love having you guys here today. Thanks for coming out."

He told us while walking, that his mom, who is also a wire artist, makes his special shoes for him. They have special soles that help his feet grip the wire.

People asked him all kinds of questions and followed him along as he walked. At one point, he did a fake little slip, and said, "Sorry!" when someone gasped. He was kidding around, again!

We didn't go see him yesterday, because tropical storm Andrea was passing through. It turns out that he came out to practice yesterday late in the day, walking in the rain and up to 52 m.p.h. gusts, and that he actually preferred practice yesterday as opposed to the partly cloudy, gentle winds of 5-10 m.p.h. today! Better preparation for the canyon walk, he said!

Nik has written his memoir, a book called "Balance" A Story of Faith, Family, and Life on the Line....He says his ultimate safety net is his faith.  “God’s grace is the balancing pole that keeps me from falling into self-obsession and self-deception. Whatever I have achieved—and will ever achieve—is the result of my relationship with Him.”
An interesting man, a great promoter of his hometown of Sarasota, a man of great faith...We and everyone who knows about what he is attempting, wish the best for him and his family in his next endeavor.....


  1. Interesting update on Nik, thanks for sharing with us.

  2. Can't imagine why anyone would want to walk across Niagara Falls or the Grand Canyon, but I guess that's why I am not a tightrope walker.

  3. All I can say is this guy is nuts, and I am not watching!

  4. I think it's very cool that you are able to watch him practice. I for one, will be watching the live event!

  5. I can't watch it but I sure will be praying he crosses safely. I'm sure the wind is going to be a participant at the Grand Canyon. Makes my stomach hurt just to think about it.

  6. I would love to see the practice but the Grand Canyon walk seems a bit suicidal. Those people are weird. Brave but weird.