Nik Wallenda
American tightrope walker
Nik Wallenda
Nikolas "Nik" Wallenda is an American high wire artist, acrobat, daredevil, and six-time Guinness World Record holder. A direct descendant of Karl Wallenda, Nik is known for death-defying performances on highwire without a safety net. On October 15, 2008, during a live broadcast of Today, Wallenda walked and then bicycled across a suspended highwire 135 feet (41 m) above the ground, setting a Guinness world record for longest and highest bicycle ride on a highwire.
Nik Wallenda's personal information overview.
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Wallenda: 'I can relax' after Orlando Eye walk
USA Today - almost 2 years
USA Today's Sarah Sekula has a quick conversation with high wire artist and world record holder Nik Wallenda after his Eye of Orlando stunt.           
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USA Today article
Nik Wallenda prepares to walk Florida observation wheel - almost 2 years
High-wire walker Nik Wallenda gets ready for his latest stunt in which he will attempt to walk atop a moving observation wheel in Orlando, Florida. Tara Cleary reports.
Article Link: article
Nik Wallenda to walk atop spinning Orlando Eye
Fox News - almost 2 years
'King of the High Wire' on 'TRS'
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Fox News article
Just months after Chicago skywalk, Wallenda plans another stunt
Chicago Times - almost 2 years
Less than six months after his record-breaking stunt in Chicago, daredevil Nik Wallenda is at it again.
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Chicago Times article
Wallenda plans to walk on 400-foot Orlando observation wheel
Yahoo News - almost 2 years
NEW YORK (AP) — Daredevil Nik Wallenda says he'll walk untethered on top of a 400-foot observation wheel in Orlando, Florida, this month.
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Yahoo News article
Jenny Wallenda, Matriarch Of Famous Daredevil Family, Dies At 87
NPR - almost 2 years
Jenny Wallenda was the oldest daughter of high wire walker Karl Wallenda and grandmother of daredevil performer Nik Wallenda. » E-Mail This
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NPR article
Live events proving worth for networks
Yahoo News - over 3 years
NEW YORK (AP) — Television executives are looking for more than hot actors these days. They're searching for the next Nik Wallenda.
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Yahoo News article
Nik Wallenda, sister complete walk 150 feet over race track
USA Today - over 3 years
Daredevil Nik Wallenda's latest feat involved sharing the wire with his sister over the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
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USA Today article
News: Reality TV's Growing Pains: What Will It Take to Find The Next Big Hit?
Seattle Pi - over 3 years
Even top executives and producers admit that the genre has become tired - an overload of singing battles, food challenges, screaming housewives and dating competitions. CBS recently named a new head of reality TV, Chris Castallo, while Fox is looking to fill the top job in its alternative department (which infamous reality kingpin Mike Darnell vacated at the end of July). On the production side, companies such as FremantleMedia North America (American Idol), A. Smith and Co. (Hell's Kitchen) and Studio Lambert have also undergone management changes or brought in new execs. Other outfits, including Thinkfactory Media (Gene Simmons' Family Jewels) and Gurney Productions (Duck Dynasty), have sold controlling stakes in their companies to larger conglomerates. The appetite is there, particularly as new cable channels like Esquire Network, Pivot and a rebranded TVGN look for fresh programming to define their brand, and major cable networks like USA and TNT aim for their first reality ...
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Seattle Pi article
Nic Wallenda
NPR - over 3 years
The great wire-walker talks about what it was like growing up in a circus family. » E-Mail This     » Add to
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NPR article
Move Over, Nik Wallenda
Huffington Post - over 3 years
Move over, Nik Wallenda. There's another dare devil gearing up for an equally heart-racing stunt live on National Geographic Channel. Rock climbing star Alex Honnold will attempt to scale one of the tallest buildings in the world in a live two-hour event, titled "Live Climb with Alex Honnold," National Geographic Channel has announced. The 27-year-old expert will be the first person to climb the building, which, for safety reasons, will remain confidential until closer to the climb this fall. "I've always loved climbing in all forms and this is an amazing opportunity to push my own climbing into interesting new terrain. I've admired the aesthetics of sky scrapers my whole life; it's great to be able to climb one," Honnold, who first garnered international fame for his 2008 free solo ascent of Half Dome (a sheer 2,000-foot granite face in Yosemite National Park), said in a statement. "When Alex brought us this incredible idea, it struck at the very heart of what a ...
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Huffington Post article
Nik Wallenda will string a wire across pretty much anything and walk across it
Fox News - over 3 years
High wire pro Nik Wallenda made history in June when he walked down a wire strung across the Grand Canyon -- without a net.
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Fox News article
Back On The Ground, Nik Wallenda Dreams Up His Next Walk
NPR - over 3 years
Wallenda put his circus family back on the map with his high-wire trip across Niagara Falls in 2012. Last week, it was a walk across a 1,500-foot gorge near the Grand Canyon. Of course he gets butterflies, he says, but there's no fear. » E-Mail This     » Add to
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NPR article
Daredevil Nik Wallenda gets jeans for life
LATimes - over 3 years
After aerialist Nik Wallenda crossed a gorge near the Grand Canyon via tightrope on Sunday, he came home with more than the kind of souvenir T-shirt one might pick up near a major national park.     
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LATimes article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Nik Wallenda
  • 2014
    Age 35
    He would like to do an event with the Eiffel Tower and Egypt's pyramids. "There's a lot of expectations on my end", he says, adding that he wants to "reinvent the circus". "Whenever we're someplace unique or different," says Erendira, "he's always looking around – 'Oh, I could string a wire from here to there and walk there.'" Wallenda, who spent the summer of 2014 in Western New York with shows at Darien Lake and the Erie County Fair, hopes to develop a longer-term tourist attraction near Niagara Falls honoring stuntmen such as his family.
    More Details Hide Details In 1999, Wallenda proposed to his future wife Erendira (née Vasquez) on a wire high during a performance in Montreal, Quebec. Having just performed a seven-man pyramid act with his family, he stayed on the platform while the family descended. He walked to the middle of the wire and got down on one knee, proposing to Erendira in front of 25,000 people. A week later, they were married. "I don’t know if either of us could be married to someone who didn’t perform," says Erendira. "I can’t see either of us ever being happy sitting behind a desk." Wallenda credits God for his success, saying that what he does on the high-wire is a gift from God. He grew up in "a Bible-believing, God-fearing family" and describes himself as a "born-again Christian". Faith is "the most important part of my life," he says. According to family friend Michael Mascitto, "When he started doing some of these bigger stunts, he realized that he was developing a platform, or rather God was giving him a platform, to use his abilities for God’s glory". Mascitto says Wallenda's faith has been strengthened as his profile grew. "He truly believes it’s because God has given him this platform for a reason — to glorify Him... Him with a capital H."
    He followed that up with Skyscraper Live, a live Discovery special which aired on November 2, 2014.
    More Details Hide Details In the special, Wallenda completed two tightrope walks, setting two new Guinness World Records: one for walking the steepest tightrope incline between two buildings, and the other for the highest tightrope walk while blindfolded. Wallenda is married with three children, and considers his Christian faith to be a central aspect of his life. Wallenda is a seventh-generation member of The Flying Wallendas family of aerialists. His ancestors, primarily of Austro-Hungarian descent, have been circus performers since the 1700s and have been doing balancing acts without nets since Karl Wallenda made the family famous for the feat in the 1920s. Nik Wallenda is a direct descendant of Karl, whom he calls his role model and his "biggest hero in life". Karl "didn’t do the ordinary. He has always inspired me", Nik explained. Nik has called growing up in the Wallenda family an honor and "like standing on the shoulders of giants. They've created a legacy that has gone on for seven generations and I've been able to continue it along."
    Wallenda was unable to get permission to do the walk in New York City, but, in April 2014, announced he was scouting skyscrapers in Chicago, Illinois for a televised tight walk event for the Discovery Channel.
    More Details Hide Details Wallenda said he was very interested in tight walking between the Willis Tower with another nearby skyscraper. On November 2, 2014, Discovery aired the special, entitled Skyscraper Live. In the special, Wallenda completed two tightrope walks, setting two new Guinness World Records: one for walking the steepest tightrope incline between two buildings (19 degrees) and the other for the highest tightrope walk while blindfolded. In the long run, Wallenda's goal is to achieve global recognition and celebrity. "I've had a vision for my name since I was very young, that I was going to take it to the top of my industry", he says. His wirewalking "wishlist" includes traversing the Bosphorus continental divide in Turkey and Inca ruins at Macchu Picchu.
  • 2013
    Age 34
    On March 18, 2013, Wallenda announced that he had come to terms with The Discovery Channel for television rights.
    More Details Hide Details According to Wallenda, "There's a lot of updrafts and downdrafts, and the winds are hard to predict the Canyon". To prepare for the winds, Wallenda walked a wire twice daily along the banks of a Sarasota river with fans watching. He used wind machines to simulate wind gusts up to and practiced during the heavy rain of Tropical Storm Andrea. Wallenda said it was "hard to prepare for updrafts... when it comes down to Mother Nature, we’re not in control." At, the walk was the highest of Wallenda's career, about seven times as high as the Niagara crossing. He covered a distance of approximately in 22 minutes, 54 seconds, using a wire. He carried a balancing pole weighing. As the walk began, Wallenda realized the wire had become slippery due to gathered dust. He spat on his hands and rubbed his shoes for better grip. Shortly thereafter, he stopped and crouched down on the wire due to wind gusts. He later stopped a second time to break the bounce of the wire that his walking had induced. Throughout the walk, Wallenda could be heard praying, repeatedly saying "Thank you, Jesus." Wallenda ran the last few steps then jumped off and kissed the ground. Completing the walk in 22 minutes, 54 seconds, Wallenda became the first person to highwire walk across a Grand Canyon area gorge.
    On June 23, 2013, Wallenda highwire walked across the Little Colorado River Gorge in Navajo territory outside Grand Canyon National Park's borders about 40 miles east of the main tourist facilities.
    More Details Hide Details The event, billed as a "Grand Canyon crossing" and titled Skywire Live with Nik Wallenda, aired live worldwide on the Discovery Channel with a 10-second delay. Opinions varied on whether the event was truly a walk across the Grand Canyon. The Reuters news agency described the location as simply "the Grand Canyon", while the Associated Press described it as a "gorge near the Grand Canyon." According to the United States Geological Survey, the Grand Canyon geological area includes the Little Colorado River Gorge. Wallenda originally obtained permits to walk across the canyon in 2008, and planned to make the trip as early as 2009. However, the walk was delayed due to substantial logistical hurdles. When the opportunity to cross Niagara Falls arose, the Grand Canyon walk was put on hold. Shortly after crossing Niagara Falls, Wallenda said he would try to make the Grand Canyon crossing "within a year". In August 2012, he said that he was "98 percent" certain that the walk would take place in May or June 2013 and said he would get "something in writing" that no safety harness would be required for the walk.
    On June 4, 2013, Wallenda's memoir, Balance: A Story of Faith, Family, and Life on the Line, was published by FaithWorks.
    More Details Hide Details Ghost written by David Ritz, the book details his family history, Christian faith, and his circus career. Ritz got in touch with Wallenda after his Niagara walk to pitch the idea. He then spent several months following Wallenda around and asking questions. Erendira, who has an excellent memory, supplied much of the dialogue. Balance weaves in themes of faith throughout, as it chronicles Wallenda's childhood, adolescence, and adult career, with particular emphasis on the ups and down of his marriage and personal life. It concludes with the Niagara Falls crossing. "One of the challenges of writing a book", Wallenda commented, "is there's things you probably don't want people to know about you... It was very emotional telling these stories at times... It is a challenge to reveal your life story." Reviewer John Law remarked, "Wallenda is really juggling two books with Balance – one about his tireless belief in God's plan, and the stuff readers actually want to know: The hardships, the drama, the thrill of life on a wire." He said the book felt "rushed", likely in an attempt to get it out before Wallenda's crossing of the Grand Canyon, but said it is "worth it for the chapter on the Falls".
  • 2012
    Age 33
    On June 20, 2012 Wallenda rejoined his family in Branson.
    More Details Hide Details He was greeted by a parade in his honor at the Silver Dollar theme park. For Wallenda, it was back to business as usual. "I never want to get complacent", he said in a press release. "I could get hurt just as easily on a wire here as walking over Niagara Falls." On August 9, Wallenda conducted a tightrope walk across the Atlantic City beach from Sovereign Avenue to the Tropicana Resort, roughly in the air. According to him, the walk was a unique challenge due to potentially dangerous ocean winds. Additionally, Wallenda was surprised by the large amount of sand that stuck to the wire and considered cancelling as a result. "I learned a lesson," he remarked. "There was a lot of sand on the cable and it actually made it a little bit slippery, definitely eerie at the beginning". Ultimately, he completed the half-hour walk without any visible difficulty. Large crowds were reported for the public event, with attendance estimates ranging from 100,000 to 150,000. Wallenda believes that the feat marked the first time that a wire walker attempted such a walk on any beach.
    A reality show, originally titled Danger By Design, following Wallenda and his family premiered on The Science Channel on June 18, 2012.
    More Details Hide Details The show's pilot had previously aired in 2010 under the title Life on a Wire, before Discovery decided to hold the show until after the Niagara Falls walk. The pilot episode, which tracked Wallenda's high-wire walk and bicycle ride in The Bahamas, was described as "a sometimes painfully candid look at the creative tensions — and the strong familial bond — between Wallenda and his dad, Terry Troffer, who got so stressed out during preparations for that stunt he wound up in the hospital" by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Later episodes showcased Wallenda hanging from a helicopter by his teeth, preparing for the Wheel of Death in Atlantic City, blowing himself up in a box, and retracing the steps of Karl Wallenda's fatal last act in Puerto Rico. The show focused on the science and engineering that go into Wallenda's acts. After two episodes had aired, the show was renamed Nik Wallenda: Beyond Niagara. The next week, on July 2, it was put "on hold" by The Science Channel. Wallenda said the decision was "not that surprising" given the limited marketing efforts and multiple name changes. The Science Channel declined to comment on the decision.
    On February 15, 2012, the commission voted unanimously to give Wallenda's plan the go ahead, provided that he paid rigging and commission costs of C$105,000.
    More Details Hide Details Wallenda described the legal battle as the biggest challenge of his career and "probably more remarkable" than the walk itself. He attributed the eventual success to divine intervention. "God's hand is involved in every step of my life," he explained. "I believe doors were opened for me that weren't opened for others". Six previous high-profile wire walkers had failed in their attempts to gain approval to walk the Falls since 1971. In preparation for the event, municipal authorities on both sides of the border met to discuss the long-term economic impact of the event, and how to capitalize efficiently on the large number of tourists expected at the Falls when it was held. The event was expected to bring in millions of dollars in tourist revenue on both sides of the border. The Niagara Parks Commission has stated it will be at least twenty years before another major stunt is approved.
  • 2011
    Age 32
    On the Canadian side, things went less smoothly. In June 2011, public statements by NPC board members made it clear that they were opposed to Wallenda's plan.
    More Details Hide Details After an October meeting with Wallenda, the twelve-person board voted on December 7 to maintain their anti-stunting rules. NPC officials, led by chair Janice Thomson, feared Wallenda's plan could bring back the days when amateur daredevils routinely got themselves injured or killed at the Falls, and also believed it would cheapen the area's natural beauty. "It's sensationalism, and that's not what the falls is supposed to be about," said Thomson. In response, Wallenda funded an economic impact survey conducted by Enigma Research. The results suggested direct revenue potential of $20.5 million for the city, with up to $122 million of "legacy effects" over the next five years. The survey also predicted worldwide viewership of 460 million people. Wallenda further promised to fund all the necessary safety-contingencies and to leave no footprint on the environment. Seeing the economic benefits, Ontario Minister of Tourism Michael Chan convinced the NPC to take a second look.
    On June 10, 2011, Wallenda performed while hanging from a helicopter above Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri.
    More Details Hide Details First he hung from a trapeze with two arms, then one arm, then his legs, and finally by his teeth. In so doing, Wallenda set his sixth world record. He called it his most difficult feat to date, and remarked that training "was very difficult. It was very painful. I had neck problems for months afterwards". For the next couple months, Wallenda performed daily shows at Silver Dollar City with his family. The highlight of the show was a three-person "Chair Pyramid" on the high-wire. Wallenda and Jonah Finkelstein rode bicycles across the wire while Delilah Wallenda sat in a chair atop a balance bar they carried. In the middle of the performance, Wallenda would purposely act like he was losing control and move the balance bar erratically to heighten the drama. He would then shout "Watch it, Mom!" before regaining control. Acting off balance was the hardest part of the act, according to Wallenda.
    On June 4, 2011, Wallenda completed a high-wire crossing between the two towers of the ten-story Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
    More Details Hide Details The performance was a recreation of the act that had killed Karl Wallenda in 1978. For the performance, Wallenda's mother, Delilah (Karl's granddaughter), joined him. The mother and son team started at opposite ends of the wire. When Delilah reached the middle of the wire, roughly the spot Karl had fallen, she sat down on the wire and Nik stepped over her before the two continued to opposite ends of the wire. At one point during the performance, Nik knelt down on the wire and blew a kiss in honor of his great-grandfather's memory. After the feat, Wallenda said he was "not scared at all," but admitted that the circumstances of Karl's death had haunted him for years. "This has been a dream of mine to recreate this walk", he explained. "To be able to walk in his exact footsteps is an extremely huge honor, and I did this for him as much as I did it for my family to get some closure." He also called the walk the biggest and most emotional moment of his career to that point. "I can't even put it into words. It was so emotional", he said a week later.
    On April 28, 2011, Wallenda visited the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey for a pair of performances.
    More Details Hide Details In the first, he walked a tightrope inside the casino's shopping center. Performing with a balancing pole, in the air, he dropped to one knee and then onto his back during the performance. He walked both forwards and backwards before completing the journey. Afterwards, Wallenda said he had previously noted the casino's raised ceiling painted with a sky scene and said to himself "I've gotta walk there!" Later in the day, Wallenda went outside to perform the Wheel of Death off the roof and over the side of the casino's 23rd floor. In the act, he walked inside the wheel for roughly 10 rotations, then climbed atop it where he walked and jumped rope around it. Part of the act, he performed blindfolded. The performance set a world record for the greatest height at which the Wheel had ever been performed. It was also the first time anyone had performed the act off the side of a building.
  • 2010
    Age 31
    The approval came after nearly two years of lobbying governments in both the United States and Canada. In October 2010, Wallenda was approached by Roger Trevino, the executive vice president of Niagara Falls Redevelopment, at an amusement trade show.
    More Details Hide Details Trevino later recalled: "I went up to Wallenda and said ‘Have you ever thought about walking across the falls?’ and he said, ‘ever since I was a little kid,’ and then he asked about the steps involved." Wallenda later remarked "I believe people are brought into my life for a reason... I take everyone seriously because you just never know you are talking to". Trevino next contacted New York State Senator George Maziarz. After Maziarz met Wallenda, he went to work at drafting a bill granting Wallenda a one-time exemption to the state's anti-stunting laws. Dennis H. Gabryszak co-sponsored the bill, and it passed the State Senate and Assembly nearly unanimously. The bill was signed into law by governor Andrew Cuomo on September 23, 2011.
    On August 30, 2010, Wallenda performed at the Atlantis Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas.
    More Details Hide Details For the first part of his act, he rode a bicycle along a high-wire above the ocean. The ride set a new Guinness World Record for highest bike ride on a high-wire, nearly doubling Wallenda's own record from 2008. Following the bike ride, Wallenda tightrope walked over the resort's marine habitat filled with barracuda, piranha, and sharks. It was the longest walk of his career. Between the morning bike ride and the late afternoon tightrope walk, Wallenda's father and safety coordinator Terry passed out from a combination of heat and stress and was rushed to the hospital. Performing without his father watching "was one of the hardest decisions I ever made in my life", Wallenda said, "but my family history and my family tradition is that the show must go on." It was the first time in his career that he performed without the assistance of his father. In addition, he had to battle rain, strong winds, and lightning in the area to complete the feats.
    In 2010, he performed in his home town of Sarasota for the first time.
    More Details Hide Details On February 4, he walked from the roof of One Watergate Condominium to the roof of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel. The performance lasted 12 minutes and was aired on national television. From February 12–28, he anchored a version of The Flying Wallenda seven-person pyramid at Circus Sarasota.
  • 2009
    Age 30
    In total, Wallenda completed 15 high-wire performances at 100 or more feet in the air during 2009.
    More Details Hide Details
    On July 3, Wallenda wire walked over the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh as the headline act of the 2009 Three Rivers Regatta.
    More Details Hide Details He paused several times during the performance to kneel and wave to the crowd. At one point, he had to stop for a few minutes to regain his balance in the strong winds and rain. Although Wallenda's team had ordered an ungreased wire, it was covered in oil when it arrived. To compensate, Wallenda did the walk in his socks rather than in his tightrope shoes. At, the 25-minute walk was the longest of his career to that point.
    In 2009, Wallenda took his high-wire act to ten Cedar Fair amusement parks in what was dubbed as the "Walk Across America Tour".
    More Details Hide Details The tour began with a walk at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City and ended at Carowinds, where Wallenda twice walked across the North Carolina-South Carolina state line on the high-wire. As part of the tour, he walked at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio from the front gate to the Eiffel Tower on August 15. Traveling at above the ground, it was the highest walk of his career at the time. He completed the walk in about 25 minutes as several thousand people watched.
  • 2008
    Age 29
    On October 15, 2008, Wallenda performed on a live broadcast of Today.
    More Details Hide Details The plan was to walk and then bicycle off the roof of the Prudential Center in Downtown Newark, New Jersey, across a suspended high-wire 13 and 1/2 stories (135 feet) above the ground. Starting at 8:30am, he first walked across the cable with a balancing pole. Half way through, he sat down on the wire and called the Today show hosts. "Where are you?" he asked, joking that he was expecting to carry one of the show's hosts across the wire on his shoulder. Sitting down on the wire is easy, he said, it is getting back up that is tricky. A few steps before completing the walk, Wallenda stopped and waved to the crowd. When he resumed, he wobbled and had to bend his knees to regain balance. "I actually slipped," he said later. "I lost focus there for a moment" because of some unexpected tape on the wire. He completed the walk in about five minutes.
  • 2007
    Age 28
    In 2007 and 2008, Wallenda was a featured performer in the Ringling Brothers production Bellobration, performing with Bello Nock on a newly contrived, double version of the Wheel of Steel.
    More Details Hide Details At the beginning of the act, Wallenda and Nock stood balanced atop twin circles 39 feet in the air. To the audience, the circles appeared to be connected until the act started with a burst of fireworks. The wheels then split, sending the performers in opposite directions without safety nets or harnesses. To stay on the device, the duo had to move in unison, running at up to 20 miles an hour. Vibrations were transferred from one wheel to the other, meaning each performer was affected by what the other was doing. At the top of each arc the performers were rendered weightless, while being subjected to several times the force of gravity at the bottom. The act was set around a story line. During the first half of the circus, Wallenda's wife, Erendira, played the love interest of Nock. After intermission, Wallenda and Nock "battled" it out on the Wheel, competing for her heart. To enhance the entertainment value, they mixed jumping rope, somersaults, and leaps into the routine. In all, the Wheel performance lasted seven minutes.
  • 2005
    Age 26
    In 2005, Wallenda and his wife, Erendira, took their act to Raging Waters in San Dimas, California, while his mother and sister stayed at Wet 'n Wild.
    More Details Hide Details Throughout this time period, Wallenda continued to participate in the family's signature seven-person pyramid. In 2006, McDonald's sponsored a show in Detroit. To promote the restaurant's new coffee, Nik Wallenda and his older sister Lijana did an act where they met in the middle of a high-wire and sat down to have some coffee, after starting on opposite ends. After exchanging several toasts, Nik stood up and stepped over his sister. As the siblings headed back to their platforms, a crane winch malfunctioned, preventing Lijana from exiting the wire. After Nik descended to the ground, a crane was moved to reduce the tension on the wire and he rode a hook up to rescue his sister.
  • 2002
    Age 23
    From 2002 to 2005, Wallenda performed alongside his wife, children, and other family members at Wet 'n Wild Emerald Pointe in Greensboro, North Carolina.
    More Details Hide Details They also toured the United States as part of various circuses. One early act featured Wallenda riding a motorcycle across the high-wire in the air.
  • 2001
    Age 22
    In 2001, Wallenda appeared with seven other family members at Japan's Kurashiki Tivoli Park in an attempt at the world's first ever eight-person high-wire pyramid.
    More Details Hide Details After five months of four hours per day, six days a week preparation, the family successfully walked across a tightrope in six minutes, setting a Guinness World Record. Nik Wallenda cited Karl Wallenda as the primary inspiration for the feat, and stated, "It was a landmark experience for our profession, as well as our family and me personally."
  • 1998
    Age 19
    Wallenda briefly considered becoming a doctor, and was accepted into college. However, his plans changed in 1998.
    More Details Hide Details At age 19, he participated in a re-creation of Karl Wallenda's seven-person pyramid on the high-wire in Detroit, Michigan, alongside his father, mother, and other family members. Afterwards, he decided to make a career of it. "I knew then what I was born to do," he later said. "We were on every TV show around the world and I said, 'if there is this much attention on what I do, then I need to carry on this legacy'". He saw there was still interest in the Wallenda name. "There was definitely a future" for the Wallendas, he later recalled. "industry is not dying, it's just changing." Nik Wallenda has produced a variety of large-scale productions for amusement parks and similar venues in several countries. The acts often feature him alongside family members, especially his wife Erendira. Wallenda's children are sometimes part of the act. His youngest child, Evita, has been performing balancing feats since she would balance in the palm of her father's hand at six months old. Wallenda's shows have incorporated water and diving feats, the Wheel of Death, incline motorcycles, aerial silk and hoop, the globe of death, and of course the high-wire. "We've performed nearly every circus or daredevil skill there is," claims Wallenda. "I like to mix it up", he says. "It keeps family on our toes and gives the public something new to see every year."
  • 1991
    Age 12
    As Wallenda grew, he transitioned from being a clown to juggling to a dog act. In 1991, at age 12, he told a reporter he was not interested in becoming a high-wire artist when he grew up. "It's just not worth it," he explained. "We're risking our lives out there.
    More Details Hide Details We could die." Instead, he said, he dreamed of being a pilot. Soon after, Wallenda made his professional tightrope walking debut at age 13. When he graduated high school, his parents encouraged him to go to college and explore his options. With live circus losing popularity, becoming a performer did not seem like a viable career path. Delilah Wallenda wrote a book, The Last of the Wallendas, convinced that the family legacy would end with her generation.
  • 1981
    Age 2
    Wallenda's first public performance, dressed as a clown, was at SeaWorld San Diego in 1981.
    More Details Hide Details He began to play on the wire at age two, walking back and forth while holding his mother's hand. At age four, he starting walking the wire on his own, learning primarily from his father. As a child, he would play on his parent's practice wire with his older sister Lijana, two feet (.6 m) off the ground. Wallenda's parents would throw objects at him as he practiced, and even shot him with a BB gun, to train him to deal with distractions. At age six, he first visited Niagara Falls and immediately decided that one day he wanted to walk a tightrope across it. He spent most of his youth on the road, living in a mobile home as his parents performed across America. However, Wallenda says there was never any family pressure to become a circus performer.
  • 1979
    Age 0
    Nik Wallenda was born in Sarasota, Florida, on January 24, 1979, to Delilah Wallenda and Terry Troffer.
    More Details Hide Details At age two, his parents bought him a swing set. Before Troffer had even finished assembling it, Wallenda climbed up to the crossbar and did a somersault. "And he did it perfectly," Troffer recalls. "I didn't teach him that." Around the same time, he began performing with his family in their circus act.
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