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Nik Wallenda walks 600 feet, on a wire no wider than a nickel

1:08 AM, Feb 5, 2010   |    comments
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Sarasota, Florida-Walking on a wire no wider than a nickel, 31 year old circus superstar Nik Wallenda walks 600 feet across while suspended 200 feet up in the air. The high wire walk took place Thursday morning between the One Watergate Condominium building and the Ritz Carlton Hotel two of the tallest buildings in the city.

Wallenda has broken several world records and done similar high wire acts across the country but this is the first time he's performed in his hometown of Sarasota. The event has special meaning for him. Wallenda's family started performing in Germany in the late 1700's and in 1928 Circus pioneer John Ringling brought his family to Florida. "The fact I can see the John Ringling Bridge and this is the footprint of the John Ringling hotel I wouldn't be here today if not for John Rinling and the Ringing brothers," says Wallenda.

Hundreds came out to see the 7th generation Wallenda perform. With a 50 pound balance bar in his hands, suede shoes made by his mother and his father communicating through an ear piece Wallenda makes the death defying walk without a safety net below.

Students from Bollettieri Tennis Academy came out to see for themselves. "He definitely has some guts," says 12 year old Allie Baxter. "I'm nervous fo him hope he gets across safely," adds 12 year old Maggie McCormack.

Wallanda did more than walk on the wire he knelt down several times and waved to the crowd. The 31 year old father of 3 also laid flat on the wire and that drew gasps from the people below.

The students say watching him inspires them to do better. "Never give up," says Maggie. "He taught me to be brave," says 12 year old gymnast Sarah Caolili.

Wallenda has three children ages 6, 9 and 12 and he says all three are walking the high wire. But as a father he doesn't want them to get into that side of the family business. "I apologize to my parents publicly. I put them through a lot of stress."

Wallenda has been walking the wire since he was a toddler. He has permits to be the first person to walk across the Grand Canyon. In 2009 he went on tour, "walking across America." The 31 year old performer plans on starting a new tour "walking across the world." He also says there are a few TV projects in the works. Wallenda understands the risks he takes, his grandfather Karl Wallenda died in 1978 doing a similar high wire act. So why keep testing fate? Wallenda explains, "I'm carrying on a legacy. I have a lot to live up to."


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