Nik Wallenda makes historic Niagara Falls walk
Daredevil Nik Wallenda crosses Niagara Falls on a tightrope on Friday, June 15, 2012.
Published Friday, June 15, 2012 11:34PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, June 15, 2012 11:37PM EDT
A history-making event came to a successful conclusion Friday night as daredevil Nik Wallenda stepped off his tightrope onto Canadian soil, ending a tense 25-minute journey across Niagara Falls.
Wallenda's journey across the 457-metre wire, which was just five-inches in diameter, began at 10:16 p.m. ET on the U.S. side of the Falls.
It ended in Niagara Falls, Ont., at 10:41 p.m. where Wallenda was greeted by his wife, three kids and an estimated 120,000 cheering spectators.
As he neared the last few metres, inching across the wire that was only as wide as three pennies stacked end to end, a wide smile spread across Wallenda's face.
He paused before stepping onto the platform on the Canadian side of the Falls, pumping his fist in the air.
Prayer, concentration and training helped him make it safely across, Wallenda said after his walk.
"I'm extremely blessed to be where I am," Wallenda said after stepping onto Canadian soil.
Indeed, Wallenda used his faith to focus during the walk. He wore a wireless microphone during the walk and could be heard praying as he made his way across the wire.
"Thank you Jesus, my righteous king," Wallenda said as the mist from the Falls soaked him and blurred his vision.
Wallenda was also coached along by his father, who sat in a studio and used the wireless microphone to communicate with his son.
Wallenda's crossing was the first time in history that someone crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope. In the past, other tightrope walkers have crossed the water, but only over the gorge located downstream of the Falls.
Wallenda was the first person to get permission for a highwire walk since James Hardy in 1896.
Though Wallenda's walk was successful, it wasn't without its challenges.
At about 70 per cent of the way across the wire, Wallenda spoke briefly to reporters using his wireless microphone, saying that the mist from the Falls was greater than he expected.
"There was so much moving around me," Wallenda said. "Mist going one way, wind going another."
His body also felt the challenges of the walk.
"My hands, at this point, feel like they're going numb," Wallenda said in the last third of his crossing.
The concerns that plagued Wallenda on the day before the walk didn't seem to bother him Friday night.
Notably on Thursday, Wallenda expressed concern with the harness he had to wear during the crossing.
Wallenda originally planned not to wear the harness, but U.S. television network ABC said it would not broadcast the live event without it.
Wallenda usually does not wear a harness during his stunts.
"I'm a man of integrity," Wallenda told reporters Thursday. "I respect the fact that ABC and CTV have told their viewers that Nik Wallenda cannot lose his life live on national television."
Though Wallenda's physical journey across the Falls began Friday night, preparation for the event began almost six months earlier for the performer, who is a seventh-generation member of the Flying Wallendas family.
Wallenda's original request to be allowed to perform his high-flying stunt was denied by the Niagara Parks Commission in December 2011.
The commission reconsidered the request and gave Wallenda the go-ahead during a public meeting in February. The New York Legislature also supported the event.
In the week leading up to the event, engineers and production crews descended on Niagara Falls to plan every last detail.
Though Wallenda made history Friday, even after months of planning the daredevil wasn't above the law. Wallenda carried his U.S. passport in a plastic bag in his pocket during his walk and he was greeted by two border guards when he stepped onto Canadian soil.
"What is the purpose of your trip?" asked one guard.
Wallenda's answer was simple.
"To inspire people around the world," he said.