NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. – Daredevil Nik Wallenda has made history as the first person to walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope.
The walk was expected to take Wallenda 40 minutes to complete, but he stepped on Canadian soil after approximately 25 minutes.
Despite the wind and mist, a tethered Wallenda accomplished the feat with what appeared to relative ease Friday night. He later added that he got through the event with, “a lot of praying.”
He was in constant contact with his father throughout the walk, even answering questions posed to him by the media through an earpiece.
“Oh my gosh, it’s an unbelievable view,” he told ABC, which was broadcasting the event live. “I’m so blessed to be in the position I am, to be the first person to be right here and to be the first person in the world who will ever be right here, this is truly breathtaking,”
When he arrived in Canada he was greeted by two Canadian customs officer. Wallenda joked that he did not bring anything with him across the border.
The customs officer asked Wallenda what the purpose of his journey was, to which he answered, “to inspire people around the world.”
Recap of live coverage from 680News, Wallenda, and CityNews:
“The mist was so thick, so challenging, those winds hit me from every which direction, was definitely more than I expected for sure,” Wallenda said moments after reaching the Canadian side of the falls.
Wallenda crossed from the American side to the Canadian side of the falls on a 500-metre wire, suspended 60 metres above the churning water.
No one has ever walked directly over the falls, and officials haven’t allowed any tightrope acts in the area since 1896.
Wallenda said it was not his idea to be tethered for the mega-stunt.
“It is definitely a challenge; it’s very unique, something I am not used to, and I am very uncomfortable with it,” Wallenda said.
With the harness and other equipment, Wallenda carried almost 80 extra pounds.
Before the walk, University of Buffalo pop-culture expert David Schmidt said the daredevil may try to lose the tether.
“Because I think he understands that the tether does in a sense detract from the purity of the spectacle,” Schmidt said.
The seventh-generation member of the Flying Wallendas, a circus act and daredevil stunt group, Wallenda spent months getting the necessary permissions from Canada and the United States for the cross-border stunt.
Wallenda’s stunt merged two pop culture traditions — his own family’s death-defying feats on the high wire and the daredevil acts at Niagara Falls that date back more than 100 years.
It took an act of the New York Legislature and persistent lobbying by Canadian parks officials to make Wallenda’s planned wire stunt a possibility.
The Niagara Parks Commission board gave its thumbs up to Wallenda in February, reversing an earlier decision against the stunt.
Wallenda estimates that the walk will end up costing him $1.3 million — the price-tag does include the fabrication and installation of the custom-made steel wire, the permits and security on both sides of the border as well as travel and marketing.
He is recouping some of the costs through a deal with ABC to air his walk on a live special, which aired on CTV in Canada.
It’s estimated that 120,000 people were expected to gather on the Ontario side of the falls to watch the walk.
GO Transit even ran special train service from Toronto to Niagara Falls for the event.