By Michele DeLuca
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — NIAGARA FALLS — Aerialist Nik Wallenda returned to Niagara Falls on Friday, and gave his word, once again, that plans for a Falls performance area were still in the works.
The daredevil, who left the city so triumphantly last June after crossing the Niagara Gorge on a two-inch wire, held a press conference on Friday to talk about several things, including his new book, his upcoming walk over the Grand Canyon June 23, and the probability of some sort of tented site being erected in the city where he can perform a daredevil act.
The press conference, held at the Visitor’s Center near the falls in the state park, attracted a throng of local media. Wallenda was introduced by state Senator George Maziarz, R - Newfane, who called Wallenda “The best PR person the city of Niagara Falls has in the entire world.” Maziarz — known to be the politician responsible for clearing the path of red tape to make Wallenda’s walk possible after local developer Roger Trevino approached Wallenda about coming to the city — cited a national morning news show appearance by the daredevil this Monday in which half of the interview was about his Niagara Falls feat.
Maziarz announced that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Rose Harvey, commissioner of the state parks, have approved a monument to be created in the park at the site where Wallenda made his historic walk, likely to be a stone with a plaque and a piece of the actual wire used in the feat.
Wallenda, in town to accept an “Visionary” award, to hence be named in his honor, from the Niagara USA Chamber Friday night, took the microphone and announced his new book was making its debut on June 6 entitled “Balance: A Story of Faith, Family and Life on the Line,” the front cover of which shows Wallenda on a wire over the gorge.
When asked whether he considered his Grand Canyon walk, set for June 23, more dangerous than crossing the gorge, Wallenda said “I have to take them all seriously,” adding that Friday was the 35th anniversary of the death of his grandfather, who died in Puerto Rico during a ten story high promotional walk at age 73.
His grandfather fell to his death because he did not wear a tether, but the daredevil has always insisted that wearing the tether during his Niagara Falls walk was the only downside of the experience. The walk across the Grand Canyon in June will be made without a tether, which Wallenda held is a point of pride for himself and his family members.
One of the first questions he was asked during a media question and answer session was about the semi-permanent structure he has talked of erecting on the American side of Niagara Falls this summer. “I’m a man of my word,” he said. “I’ve proven that,” he added noting that a 1,600 seat tent will be up if not this summer then next summer. He said he hoped the attraction could eventually be upgraded with zip lines and other interactive family attractions, noting that when he and his family stayed in the falls last summer, there was not much for his children to do.
”It’s something we’re actively working on,” he said. “We need to have more definitive answers very soon,” he said about the project, which he added would require no public money. It is his hope, he said, that a deal could be made as soon as possible. “We need to be able to promote it and get the word out,” he said.
He assured those assembled that the attraction would be built on the American side of the falls. “This is the side that clearly needs it,” he said.
”Every single one of us has challenges,” he said. “Focus on your goals.”