Taking a barrel ride down the Niagara Falls is a rookie move, the real deal is wire walking. The last time a man walked across the Niagara Gorge was in 1896, and now Nik Wallenda (of the Flying Wallendas family of circus performers) will try the same tonight.
At a press conference yesterday, the 33-year-old said, “I’m facing Niagara Falls—the wind and the mist and the dark and the peregrine falcons—and I’m going to stay focused on the other side." The NY Times notes that both the Canadian and U.S. sides of the falls are prepared for the onlookers, with souvenirs to mark the occasion being hawked, and food vendors prepared with "daredevil dogs."
The event will be televised on ABC at 9 p.m., and the network has insisted on Wallenda wearing a safety harness as he crosses the installed 1,800 foot cable, as they do not want to air a man falling to his death on live television. (That's so Disney.) This is a long way from the 19th century wire walkers, who walked across sans safety harness, and often carrying things to heighten the challenge—one man even carried his manager across the wire, on his back! Here's a look back at those who have tested their courage across the Falls in one way or another.
Below you can watch the video Wallenda—a seasoned wire walker—made for his campaign:
Your move, Philippe Petit.