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Sarasota's Nik Wallenda completes Skywalk

7:16 PM, Jan 29, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Sarasota's Nik Wallenda completes Skywalk

 

Sarasota, Florida - If Nik Wallenda was nervous one hour away before his Skywalk over Downtown Sarasota, he wasn't showing it.

"My life is literally in your hands... so there's no pressure," Nik Wallenda tells his crew in a final pep talk. Most are volunteers. "It's important to always maintain a lot of pressure on those ropes," he strongly advises them.

As thousands gather along US 41 to watch, they worry about Wallenda's safety. "I'm scared to death," says one woman watching with her daughter.

Wallenda has one last prayer with his family and then he laces up his shoes. A lift takes him 200 feet to the top of a crane at the Bayfront along Marina Jack.

"Let's do this thing," says Wallenda as he stands from the top of the crane's platform.

With the Sarasota skyline in his view and Sarasota Bay behind him, Wallenda begins his walk.

The 500-foot-long walk to the Marina Tower Condominiums begins. 

"It's windy, very windy," Wallenda tells his father on the ground, who he has radio contact with during every walk.

The Sarasota City Commission gave Wallenda permission to walk without  a safety harness. He uses a 42-foot-long, 45-pound-pole to maintain his balance and says he doesn't need the harness.

"That's how my family's done it for 200 years. Our history, carrying on our legacy, paying tribute to my family," says Wallenda. He adds, "A tether can be obtrusive, get in the way and snag on something. It's something I've never been comfortable with."

With each step, Wallenda  gives his father Terry updates from above.

"Are you with me dad?" Wallenda asks.  

"Here I am. Are you still having hard time?" asks his father. 

Wallenda responds,  "(The cable) moving more than I'm used to."

Windy conditions and crews not holding the steel cable tightly is a problem. Wallenda momentarily stops in the middle of his walk as the cable shakes. 

"Don't jerk it," Terry Wallenda is heard telling the crews. 

Wallenda asks,  "Are they dancing down there?"

Spectators can't take their eyes off him as they see the 34-year-old walk across that 5/8" steel cable.

"I can't believe it. It's amazing, I hope he's safe," says one woman.

"I just want him to get to the other side," says another woman.

Follow 10 News Reporter Isabel Mascarenas on twitter @IzzyMascarenas

"I'm proud to be a Sarasota resident. He makes me even prouder. Nik Wallenda is a hero, an icon of the high wire act here in Sarasota. I'm here to support him," says Jay Fink.

As Wallenda takes his signature kneel down near the end of his walk, the crowd breaks into a loud cheer.

"I enjoy it. I love to look down and see the people. I hear the crowds applaud and scream. It's encouraging for me, that's what performers live for."

Wallenda completes the walk in about eight minutes.

He holds six world records, including one for being the first man to walk across Niagara Falls. His next death-defying feat will be in June as he walks across the Grand Canyon... again without a safety harness. Wallenda says he's working on a walk between two continents and he's already planning another Sarasota walk bigger than Tuesday's to do in a couple of years.

Wallenda fans have a chance to see him perform live. He is the featured performer at Circus Sarasota through February 15.

Isabel Mascarenas

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