Wallenda crosses Fla. tightrope 200 feet over road
SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) - Famed daredevil Nik Wallenda glided 500 feet across a wire suspended 200 feet above the ground on Tuesday, wowing several thousand people below in his hometown of Sarasota.
Without a tether or safety net, Wallenda was the lone figure against a blue sky, aided only by a balancing pole. He made the death-defying stunt look easy, but the performance was anything but simple: it took dozens of circus workers to pull and release the thick black cables that controlled Wallenda's wire as he walked. The morning was windier than expected, and at one point near the end, Wallenda dipped down to one knee on the wire, which led to loud gasps among the crowd.
"I have to get into a zone where I kind of forget about everything else and just focus on what I'm doing," he said shortly before he stepped on the wire. "Fear is a choice but danger is real, and that's very, very true for my line of work."
When Wallenda went to one knee, the drama reached a fever pitch.
"Scary," said Neil Montford, a vacationer from the United Kingdom, while wiping sweat from his brow and looking skyward.
Wallenda, 34, wore a gold cross around his neck and prayed with his wife, children and parents prior to the walk.
"It's my job, it's my career, it's my passion, it's what I love to do," he said.
The Sarasota City Commission allowed the stunt without a tether. Wallenda wore a tether for the first time last summer when he walked across Niagara Falls because the television network that was paying for the performance insisted on it.
Wallenda is a seventh-generation high-wire artist and is part of the famous "Flying Wallendas" circus family. His great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, fell during a performance in Puerto Rico and died.
But Wallenda wasn't focused on the possibility of tragedy. In the hours before the stunt, Wallenda walked underneath the wire, which was suspended between a crane and a condo in downtown Sarasota. He spoke of his city, of the nearby sparkling bay and how he loved to hear the cheers of the crowd while hundreds of feet up in the air.
Follow Tamara Lush on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tamaralush
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- For the Arizona Diamondbacks, does stability sell?
- Diamondbacks GM: Trades are on the table, but won't make move unless it makes team better
- D-backs' mystery man David Peralta impresses general manager Kevin Towers
- Dose of Venom: Montero's clutch hit highlights Diamondbacks' comeback win over Tigers
- Diamondbacks surpass Tigers in wild 8th inning: By The Numbers
- Bickley Blast - Wednesday July 23Kirk Gibson could be close to being a part of another miracle.
- Kevin Towers, D-backs GM - Wednesday July 23D-backs GM Kevin Towers talks about the upcoming trade deadline.
- Kirk Gibson- D-backs Manager - Tuesday July 22Did the D-backs tell Brandon McCarthy not to throw his cutter?
- Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs first baseman - Friday July 18Paul Goldschmidt talks about the All-Star Game and his expectations for the season's second half.
- Our Guy Harry - Thursday July 17Our Guy Harry joins Dan and Vince in studio.
- Derrick Hall, D-backs president & CEO - Thursday July 17Derrick Hall on Paul Goldschmidt's leadership abilities and the future of Brad Ziegler.
- Tim Kurkjian, ESPN MLB insider - Wednesday July 16ESPN MLB insider Tim Kurkjian discusses Derek Jeter’s impact on the MLB.