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Wallenda completes Niagara tightrope walk

June 15, 2012 at 11:58 PM   |   Comments

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y., June 15 (UPI) -- Daredevil Nik Wallenda completed a harrowing tightrope walk in windy, misty darkness 170 feet above Niagara Falls Friday night.

Authorities approved the stunt with the understanding the 33-year-old Wallenda would wear a safety tether from the time he stepped out on the cable until he reached solid ground in Canada.

Wearing soft-soled shoes and the tether while carrying a 40-foot balancing pole, Wallenda began his walk at 10:16 p.m. EDT and reached the Canadian side of the falls at 10:42, walking on a multi-strand 2-inch steel cable stretched 2,200 feet and swaying. He said earlier he expected the trip to take 40 minutes.

In an interview with Canada's CTV News Friday morning, Wallenda said he'd wanted to do this since he first visited Niagara Falls as a 6-year-old boy. He said in the hours leading up to the stunt he felt like "a kid on Christmas morning."

After completing the stunt, guided by spotlights, he hugged his wife and three children and said, "I told you I'd be fine, didn't I?"

He was then greeted by Canadian immigration officials who asked to see his passport.

"Oh, no," Wallenda said, first acting like he'd have to go back across the wire to get it. He then produced the document from a pouch he had in his jacket.

"What is the purpose of your trip?" one of the officials asked.

"To inspire people around the world," replied Wallenda, the first man to accomplish this stunt.

"You have," one of the officials said.

His father, Terry, was in communication with him during the crossing, speaking by radio from an ABC-TV production truck.

At one point, Terry Wallenda asked his son, "How's the harness?"

Nik Wallenda repled, "It feels fine. I just feel like a jackass wearing it."

"I'm very proud of you," Terry Wallenda told his son after the deed had been accomplished. "You made history and you made the family proud … I'm thrilled you made it to the other side."

Nik Wallenda said he plans to walk across part of the Grand Canyon, 1,400 feet above the ground, for his next trick.

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