Nik Wallenda will do his high-wire act over sand Thursday in Atlantic City, but a fall would mean almost certain death because he is walking more than 100 feet in the air.
Wallenda, 33, plans to walk on 1,300 feet of cable stretched between cranes located on the beaches near Boston Avenue on one end and near Brighton Avenue at the other end. He will not have a safety net, only a 24-foot balance pole. He has been known to lie down or sit on the wire. He doesn’t just walk across in a straight line.
The acrobat said he has been walking the wire since he was 2. His years of experience serve as preparation for Thursday’s walk.
“I’ve been preparing my entire life to do it. I walk a wire six to seven days a week, and when I’m not performing, I’m training for four to five hours a day on that wire,” said Wallenda as he was being driven Monday from Branson, Mo., to Atlantic City. “I’ve done hundreds of them now. I’ve walked honestly probably 500 miles on cable in my life, maybe even more.”
As of today, Crane 1 is in position near Boston Avenue. Crane 2 is in position near Brighton Avenue. The outriggers, which balance the cranes, are up. Counterweights have been loaded.
The cable should be visible at noon today. The cable must settle for one day prior to the stunt.
Wallenda plans to be on the wire between 20 to 30 minutes. The conditions will determine what he can do while he is out there, whether the wind is steady or whether he has to deal with gusts.
The aerialist will put on a free show for what is expected to be thousands of spectators when his public profile is at its highest.
On June 15, Wallenda became the first person to walk a tightrope stretched directly over Niagara Falls. The feat was broadcast live internationally. It was ABC’s highest-rated Friday night program since November 2007 and the highest non-sports summertime program on any of the major networks in six years. The network required him to use a safety net.
In his ability to capture the public’s imagination, Wallenda follows in the footsteps of the late magician Harry Houdini, who performed at Young’s Million Dollar Pier and Garden Pier in Atlantic City.
This is the second year in a row Wallenda is performing a public outdoor spectacle in Atlantic City at or near the Tropicana Casino and Resort.
Last April, Wallenda did the “Wheel of Death” stunt off the side of the Tropicana. The “Wheel of Death” is a 50-foot steel frame with an 8-foot wheel at one end. It rotates, and performers do acrobatic moves on it. The stunt had never been performed at that height. The 23rd story of the South Tower of the Tropicana is about 240 feet away from the beach and Boardwalk.
Tony Rodio, president and CEO of Tropicana Entertainment, said his casino is proud to work with the city administration, the Atlantic City Alliance, a marketing coalition funded by the casinos and partners to bring such a spectacle to Atlantic City.
“This is the first time this stunt has ever been attempted. Nik has been great to work with in the past, and we look forward to welcoming him back to Atlantic City as well as hosting his family’s upcoming show at Tropicana,” said Rodio, referring to “Beyond the Falls: Nik Wallenda & The Wallenda Family Experience” which starts Sunday.
Wallenda’s stunt creates an additional chance to spread awareness about the resort, said Jeffrey Vasser, president of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority.
“It’s certainly an opportunity for people on Twitter and Facebook to spread that out, ‘Look at me. I’m watching Nik Wallenda walking on a tight rope. Check this out,’ and they will have a picture of it. Then, it goes on YouTube, and all of a sudden, it gets the word out and helps brand us as a place for things to do and things to see,” Vasser said. “You never know what will be happening in Atlantic City.”
Wallenda said there is a history on the Boardwalk of cool and exciting stunts that have gone on over generations.
“It’s exciting to be a part of that. It’s exciting to be here and to perform in an environment where other amazing daredevils, magicians and artists from around the world have performed. It’s always a fun and exciting place to be,” Wallenda said.
Wallenda’s high-profile walk across Niagara Falls was a benefit to the surrounding area.
The stunt earlier this summer in Niagara Falls was positive from the perspective of attracting visitors, said Michelle Blackley, communications manager of Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation.
“It certainly did impact the visibility that we had in front of a huge audience. ABC reported over 8 million watchers that day and also we had an estimated 38,000 visitors on the U.S. side,” Blackley said. “It certainly brought additional revenue to the town. ... Our slogan for the whole event was ‘Watch History Happen.’ It certainly was a once-in-a-lifetime. Stunting is illegal in this area. He was granted special permission.”
For those was don’t want to battle the thousands of spectators Thursday and want more intimate experience seeing Wallenda’s high-wire act, they can check out the “Beyond the Falls” show, which starts Sunday and ends Sept. 22 in the Showroom at the Tropicana.
The show includes a variety of acts from silks performers to a high-wire act with Wallenda. The silks routine shows the performers agility and strength as they climb, spin and twirl on suspended silk curtains. The high-wire performance features a two-tiered, three-person pyramid performed on a chair and two bicycles.
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