After much anticipation, the Niagara Falls Fire Department finally came to Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel to spray high-wire walker Nik Wallenda with water. In addition, a wind machine created conditions of nearly 50 miles per hour (80 kilometres per hour) to give Nik the ultimate test of what conditions could be like over Niagara Falls on June 15.
The sight bordered on “unbelievable” this afternoon, so we’ll let the photos and videos “tell the story” for this one.
The crowds were as strong as ever today for watching Nik Wallenda train at Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel for his historic June 15 walk over Niagara Falls. There is just one day left to see this free event before he heads home to Sarasota, Florida. Nik will also take part in a family-filled entertainment event in Branson, Missouri, before returning to Niagara Falls around June 12.
Who knows what “tricks” Nik will have up his sleeve for tomorrow! Word is, he did a hand stand on the wire yesterday.
Today’s media/public debriefing was truly an international affair, as a reporter with The Sunday Times (London, England) joined, as well as crews with ABC News 20/20 and China Central TV.
Nik is becoming more pleased with efforts by Niagara Falls USA to promote the event. “It seems like everyone’s finally coming together,” he said. “All I want is to have this be something great for Niagara Falls, on both sides of the border. As for right here [around Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel], it’s incredible to see more people around, and I’d even be interested in building a permanent facility nearby.”
In addition to the increased likelihood of having to wear a safety harness on June 15, it also is looking more likely that Nik will walk towards Canada, because of better peripheral vision due to the mist of the falls.
More updates coming shortly!
The highest temperature ever for May 20 in Niagara Falls was 85 degrees (29 degrees Celsius) — until now. Nik Wallenda trained in record heat today at Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel.
It was a busy day for Nik, as he woke up at dawn for a helicopter ride over the falls and coverage on the Canadian side with the crew from 60 Minutes Australia. (Nik also participated in a sit-down interview with the crew inside Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel this afternoon — photo below.) The wind and mist machines that may come on site tomorrow would be a welcome addition for Nik — not just for training purposes, but because temperatures will continue to be in the 80’s.
Nik’s schedule is packed nearly 24 hours a day at this point, between media interviews, meetings with officials, and permits to review for both the training site and the June 15 historic walk over Niagara Falls. “It’ll be good to get back to Florida and practice with some quiet,” said Wallenda, “but the training here is certainly helpful in terms of the fine-tuning adjustments we continue to make with the wire. Safety is our number-one priority, but I also want the wire to feel as comfortable as possible.”
A few other things we learned at today’s media/public debriefing at noon:
- Nik fiinally tried — and enjoyed — chicken wings.
- Unbeknownst to many, Nik has walked the practice wire at night in order to prepare for the 10 p.m. walk on June 15.
- The only time Nik ever felt uneasy on the wire was when the back wheel of his bicycle spun a bit for his Guinness Book of World Records stunt over a wire, performed live on the Today Show in 2008.
- Nik believes that wearing a tether on June 15 would actually be a hinderance to his safety.
Joining the public crowd today was a local actress playing the part of Annie Edson Taylor (see photos below), who was the first person to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, in 1901. She is buried in Oakwood Cemetary in Niagara Falls, NY. (Editor’s note: We do NOT recommend going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.)
Just another “walk in the park” for Nik Wallenda during his training today at Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel. At noon, under a clear sky and calm winds, temperatures were already pushing 80 degrees (27 degrees Celsius). (So much for Western New York always being buried under three foot of snow, eh?)
Nik hopes to have mist and wind machines on site Monday if possible. (There are some waiver/legal issues causing a slight delay.) In the meantime, he is enjoying his training, and earlier said, “It’s an honor to be here. The crowds are surreal.”
We asked Nik if it was a “freeing experience” to walk at such great heights. He responded, “It definitely is. My grandfather used it say, ‘Life is on a wire; everything else is just waiting.'”
On site today and tomorrow at Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel is 60 Minutes Australia. In the pictures below, you’ll see one of the reporters, Ally (Allison Langdon), getting a crash-course in “wire walking” by Nik Wallenda.
ABC News 20/20 also is on site, capturing footage for the upcoming June 15 special. The program airs internationally from 8 to 11 p.m., with live footage starting around 9 p.m. and Nik taking to the wire shortly after 10 p.m. The entire walk over Niagara Falls should last about 40 minutes.
In closing for today, enjoy the following two videos with some unique footage. The first is a link to a video feature from the New York Times, and the second (embedded below) is from Naturally in Niagara magazine.
For today’s update from Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel, we’re going to let the videos and photos do the talking.
First, thanks to local government leaders, Nik met with groups of schoolchildren from Anna Merritt Elementary School in Lockport, NY (see video below), and Cheektowaga Central High School in Cheektowaga, NY, right after his morning training.
Then, Nik took to the Seneca Square walkway bridge for the daily debriefing at noon. First, he took questions from the media…
…then the public…
…and then met a surprise guest! After we asked Nik his favorite Frank Sinatra song — to which he responded “New York, New York” due to its message about dreams being sought and found — we introduced Michael Feinstein, who performs “The Sinatra Project” tonight with a 17-piece big-band orchestra inside Seneca Niagara Events Center. (Tickets start at $40 and great seats are still available.)
Don’t miss Nik Wallenda and Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel on tonight’s episode of Inside Edition, airing at 7 PM on CBS.
Also, on site now: a crew from ABC News 20/20. Coming this weekend on property: 60 Minutes Australia and China Central TV.
Here are a few photos from today, including more “rescue training” by Niagara Falls firefighters.
Onlookers at Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel saw not one, but two high-wire walkers today, as Nik Wallenda’s friend and fellow high-wire walker, Bello Nock, joined him during the morning training session. With Bart Simpson-esque hair that stands straight up nearly a foot tall, Bello is an easy person to spot!
Firefighters also joined the wire in between training sessions, as they practiced “rescue techniques” to slide down the rope in the event they would need to reach (a dangling) Nik.
Much of today’s discussion during the media/public debriefing focused on whether or not Nik will wear a harness during his historic June 15 walk over Niagara Falls. He would prefer not to, as he has never performed that way — but potential sponsors are currently asking for it. (More news as this develops.) Some of the media outlets in attendance included Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), New York Times, and Sarasota Herald-Tribune (from Nik’s hometown in Florida).
In addition to the photos below, be sure to watch the quick YouTube video of Nik walking “on top of” Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel. (You’ll see what we mean.)
Most people would hate doing any kind of activity in the rain. For “King of the High Wire” Nik Wallenda, it was a welcome sight during his morning training session on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, at Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel.
As onlookers took shelter during the 11 a.m. hour, Nik kept right on walking… and revelled in the damp, mist-like conditions that he will face on June 15, 2012, when he becomes the first high-wire walker in the world to walk directly over Niagara Falls.
Today’s media/public debriefing at noon was a wash-out, although Nik spoke with a few television stations inside the then-closed Koi restaurant inside Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel. Nik will return to the outdoor stage tomorrow for questions.
Later in the afternoon, Nik met with a crew from Inside Edition for an upcoming story. During the interview, Nik reiterated the exact points of the June 15 wire walk: Terrapin Point on the U.S. side and Table Rock on the Canadian side.
Nik then met a crew with the New York Times as he took to his afternoon session. Thousands at and around Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel gazed on as the weather was once again warm, sunny, and in the mid-60’s (nearly 20 degrees Celsius) as previous days.
The weather keeps getting better and better… just like the crowds around Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel. During the peak of the afternoon training session, hundreds — if not thousands — of people lined the bleachers and surrounding streets in humid 72-degree weather (22 degrees Celsius) to watch daredevil Nik Wallenda effortlessly walk a 1,200-foot high-wire suspended 50 feet (15 meters) above the ground.
Among the many media outlets on site today: a television station from Pittsburgh, a writer with the Toronto Star and Toronto Sun, and… USA Today. Here’s a small clip of Nik speaking with the USA Today crew:
We learned a few more things today about Nik’s training:
- The training wire (which is the same as the one for June 15) is two inches thick. Nik, however, normally walks on a wire about 5/8 of an inch — the size of a U.S. nickel.
- A large cross-section of the training wire represents “half” of what the actual walk will be like on June 15. Hence, this is why the wire starts low to the ground on the south end, and rises to nearly 55 feet high by Seneca Niagara Casino’s hotel tower. Nik is essentially walking “up one half” and then “down one half” as he traverses back and forth on this cross-section.
- Nik hopes to have fire trucks (spraying mist) and wind machines on site as early as Thursday to help simulate conditions over Niagara Falls.
Remember to join us every day at noon near the bleachers for the media debriefings. Nik graciously also answers questions from the public and takes a few minutes afterwards to pose for pictures and sign autographs (pending his schedule, of course).
NOTE: The camera attached to the end of Nik’s pole is part of ongoing footage being taped for an upcoming special on Discovery Channel.
Seventy (70) degrees Fahrenheit, sunny, and calm winds… another day of perfect weather for Nik Wallenda’s high-wire training at Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel.
Nik’s walk on June 15 will be the first time anyone has ever walked directly over the falls on a high-wire. But other “firsts” are already happening at Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel.
“This is the first time in the history of wire-walking that there has been an unsuspended, unprotected wire for practicing in public,” Wallenda said.
At today’s daily press debriefing — which included reporters from New York Times Magazine and Al-Jazeera TV — we learned a bit more about Nik’s personal life:
- Nik has walked the wire since the age of 2.
- Nik has a wife, Wendy, and three children — ages 14, 11, and 9. All will join him tomorrow at Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel. Nik’s children have all tried walking on high-wires, but in terms of whether or not they will follow in his footsteps: “It’s their decision whether or not they want to continue the family legacy,” he said. “As a parent, actually, I hope not.”
- Nik is a very religious Christian man, and his favorite book is the Bible. He prays before every high-wire session. And other than spending time with his family and with God, high-wire walking is his favorite passion.
- Hilarious Q&A exchange with a member of the public: “Do you wear anything like diapers because you’re up on the wire for so long?” “For June 15, I’ll wear Depends if they want to sponsor me.”
- Nik’s drink of choice: unsweetened iced tea.
- Future high-wire walks in the works: the Grand Canyon and the Continental Divide in Turkey.
- Quote of the day: “The most important thing for me, whether I’m up on the high-wire or spending time with my family, is to focus on the moment.”
Following are photos from today’s morning session. The final two shots are from a one-on-one interview with Al-Jazeera TV.