Daredevil Nik Wallenda has received approval to walk over Niagara Falls on a tightrope, in a reversal by the Niagara Parks Commission.
The commission gave its unanimous thumbs up at a public meeting Wednesday morning. It had ruled against the proposal in December, citing its policy against stunting.
After the decision was announced on Wednesday, an emotional Wallenda, 33, who spent months lobbying for the chance to fulfil his lifelong dream, said he was still processing the news.
“I haven’t had a chance for it to settle in yet,” he told the Star, sounding choked up at times. “I’m thrilled to death. This was 27 years in the making.”
The commission was Wallenda’s last legal hurdle in his plan to walking on a wire over the falls this summer. He had received approval at all levels of government on the American side. Jim Diodati, mayor of Niagara Falls, Ont., was one of Wallenda’s earliest and most outspoken supporters.
The seventh-generation member of the high-flying Wallenda family met with senior parks staff earlier this month after talking to Ontario Tourism Minister Michael Chan about the proposal.
“My family has always been taught to never give up,” said Wallenda, whose great-grandfather Karl Wallenda fell to his death at age 73 while performing in Puerto Rico in 1978.
“We’ve gone through it all, triumph and tragedy,” Nik Wallenda said. “So at no point did I think I would throw in the towel.”
The commission said they now have 45 days to work out the details.
The commission also said it only considers requests for such stunts once every 20 years and only from skilled professionals.
“This decision was approved in part in recognition of the role that stunting has played in the history and promotion of Niagara Falls,” commission chair Janice Thomson said in a release. “We have made it clear that this is a very unique one-time situation.”
Wallenda, who is based in Sarasota, Fla., said he plans to make Niagara Falls a second home for his family. He and his wife have three children.
“I plan on putting a permanent show in Niagara Falls for years to come,” he said. “This isn’t like I’m going to show up and leave.”