Last month, tightrope wiz Nik Wallenda made history by walking across Niagara Falls on a high-wire; but now, upstate NY's City of Niagara Falls says Wallenda stiffed them out of a $25,000 bill.
Local officials say that while Wallenda's 1500-foot stroll across the Falls was supposed to generate tons of publicity-based cash for the city, which has suffered significantly from the recent economic downturn, he actually left them with overtime bills for dozens of firefighters and police officers who had been called in for duty during the June 15 walk. They say a piece of legislation Wallenda signed prior to taking on the feat required him to take on "any and all costs associated with safety in conjunction with law enforcement or security," and that the overtime fees are counted as those costs. "We have tried to be very patient," city mayor Paul Dyster told the Times of the debt.
Wallenda and his camp claim they're being exploited by the City of Niagara Falls, and that they already paid the State of New York $200,000 in costs stemmed from starting the walk in a state park. Wallenda and his lawyer, John P. Bartolomei, also noted that officials from the (wealthier) Canadian counterpart to New York's City of Niagara Falls weren't hounding him for retribution. "We're treating this event as an investment, not as an expense," Niagara Falls, Ont. Mayor Jim Diodati told the Buffalo News. "We're quite happy with the way this turned out."
And the Canada vs. New York battle might just be heating up: Wallenda, who said he'd been considering opening an exhibition about his walk in New York's Niagara Falls City, has apparently been turned off by the "arrogant" Dyster. "That's why New York looks the way it does, and Canada looks the way it does," he said. "Because of that attitude." Oh no he didn't! Game's on, Dyster.