Tonawanda News

June 16, 2012

A walk months in the making

By Mackintosh Barker,
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — When you live the life of a high wire stuntman, the word doesn’t just describe your life, it is your life. Nik Wallenda probably understands this all too well. For the past year, it seemed like Wallenda’s walk might happen, then it might not. Then suddenly, like a Lego creation, everything seemed to fit into place. Here’s a timeline of events related to the historic walk:

• January, 2011:

At the suggestion of Niagara Falls Redevelopment Executive Vice President Robert Trevino, Nik Wallenda and state Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, meet to discuss the possibility of a walk over Niagara Falls. Over the next few months, Wallenda remains in contact with authorities in both New York and Canada.

• April 27, 2011:

Senate Bill S4844-2011, which will allow Nik Wallenda to traverse the Niagara Gorge, is introduced by Maziarz.

• June 6, 2011:

Assembly Bill A8206-2011 is introduced in the Assembly, the lower house of New York State’s legislature. It is the same as the Maziarz bill.

• June 15, 2011:

The Wallenda bill passes the New York Senate, 62-0.

• June 20, 2011:

The Tourism Advisory Board in the city of Niagara Falls, USA votes to endorse Wallenda’s proposed walk.

• June 22, 2011:

The Wallenda bill passes the Assembly, sending it to the governor for his signature.

• Aug. 3, 2011:

Nik Wallenda meets with Niagara Falls city and New York State Park officials to discuss details of his proposed stunt. At a press conference following the meeting, Wallenda states that he remains committed to the event despite public opposition, notably from the Niagara Parks Commission in Ontario. 

• Sept. 23, 2011:

The bill allowing Wallenda to walk over Niagara Falls is signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

• Oct. 20, 2011:

Wallenda meets with Canadian officials to discuss the proposed stunt.

• Dec. 7, 2011:

In a closed-door meeting, the Niagara Parks Commission (Canada) denies Wallenda’s request to allow him to walk over the Falls and into Ontario. Wallenda says he isn’t giving up.

• Jan. 20, 2012:

Wallenda meets with Ontario Minister of Tourism Michael Chan, in hopes he will overrule the Parks Commission’s decision, which he does not. In addition, New York state Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey says that the state cannot support a walk limited to only the American side. However, Mr. Chan calls on the Niagara Parks Commission to meet with Wallenda again.

• Feb. 2, 2012:

Wallenda meets with Niagara Parks Commission officials for a second time.

• Feb. 15, 2012:

In a complete reversal of their earlier decision, the Niagara Parks Commission votes to give the green light to Wallenda’s walk. In their decision, the Commission allows for one “qualified stunter” every 20 years.

• April 11, 2012:

Wallenda announces he will practice for his upcoming walk at the Seneca Niagara Casino for two weeks in May.

• May 2, 2012:

Wallenda announces that the high-wire walk will take place on June 15, 2012.

• May 11, 2012:

ABC Networks announces that the walk will be televised live on national TV as part of a three-hour primetime special.

• May 21, 2012:

It is revealed that ABC’s sponsors of Wallenda’s walk will require him to wear a tether on his walk. Wallenda says he will fight the decision to the end.

• June 1, 2012:

4,000 free tickets are released to the public for access to the viewing location at Terrapin Point in Niagara Falls State Park. They are gone within minutes.

• June 11, 2012:

The Niagara County Legislature officially declares June 15 “Wallenda Day.”

• June 12, 2012:

The wire that Wallenda will use to make his walk is strung across the gorge by means of helicopter and rope.