Source: Niagara Falls Review
Wirewalker Nik Wallenda still hasn’t announced what day he’ll walk over the Niagara gorge on a tightrope, but he’s confident about one thing: Once the day is locked in, it will take nothing short of a lightning storm to delay it.
Rain, wind, bird poop … he has dealt with it all. And they aren’t scary enough to cancel an event he has been dreaming of since he was six-years-old.
“There’s no concern,” he said Thursday on the line from his Florida home. “I’ve never delayed a show more than an hour and a half, and that was because of a lightning storm. I’ve walked in rain and everything else. As long as there’s no lightning in the area, I’m fine.”
Of course, there’s another factor to consider: Wallenda’s walk will have thousands of people lined up along both sides of the gorge, many of whom booked hotel rooms for the event and planned their vacations to watch the first tightrope walk across the falls in more than a century. Any delays could play havoc with local tourism, and Wallenda’s whole game plan up to now is about wooing more tourists to town.
“(To delay it) it would have to be a tropical storm that lasted for days,” he said. “There won’t be much reason for postponing. It would have to be something life-threatening … something that’s completely unforeseen.”
Since the Niagara Parks Commission relented last month and gave Wallenda approval for the walk, going against its own bylaws forbidding stunting, the actual date of the walk has been a mystery.
Wallenda’s original proposal called for a mid-June walk, but that would rule out several tourists since schools haven’t let out yet.
Holding it on the June 30 – July 4 holiday long weekend would also put it in direct competition with the Friendship Festival in Fort Erie and a Tragically Hip concert in Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is expected to draw between 15,000 to 20,000 people.
To that end, Wallenda’s manager Winston Simone met with tourist officials on both sides of the border Friday to discuss marketing.
“It’s just a matter of making sure we have a coordinated effort with Nik Wallenda and his entire team,” said Niagara Falls Tourism director of operations Toni Williams. “As you can imagine, we get calls almost daily asking when is the date.”
Wallenda will be front and centre on the Niagara Falls tourism website leading up to the walk, and around June 20 the site will enable visitors to book “Nik Wallenda packages” during the event.
“We do want to be the place people can go to get the most up to date, current information on Nik Wallenda,” said Williams.
In addition to Wallenda’s walk, Canadian wirewalker Jay Cochrane – no stranger to Niagara Falls – is expected to announce details soon of his daily walks during the summer, likely between the Hilton Hotel and Skylon Tower.
“Between the two of them, we should have quite a blockbuster summer,” said Williams.
As part of its approval, the Niagara Parks Commission gave Wallenda 45 days to finalize arrangements for the walk. More than a month has passed since the announcement, but Wallenda has no worries everything will be ready in time.
Every day is seemingly one more obstacle off the books – on Thursday, he met with U.S. Homeland Security.
Once he announces the date, he hopes to concentrate on the actual walk. Wallenda still hasn’t chosen which country the walk will begin in, and that decision could change right up to the day of the event depending on wind direction.
“I don’t foresee an issue with us not having everything worked out by the end of this month,” he said.