Check­ing in with NIK WAL­LENDA

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - On Tv - BY GE­ORGE DICKIE

With every lo­ca­tion he chooses, high-wire artist Nik Wal­lenda en­vi­sions him­self as but a small fea­ture on a much larger can­vas.

“I imag­ine every walk that I do is a post­card ...,” he ex­plains, “and we’re sort of paint­ing a pic­ture, whether it be in­spi­ra­tion of just how small we are in a large world over the Grand Canyon, etc. So I re­ally do. I en­vi­sion a post­card and what’s it go­ing to look like? And I get chills think­ing about what that post­card’s go­ing to look like with me and my sis­ter over Times Square at night.”

In­deed, Sun­day, June 23, ABC’s “High Wire Live in Times Square With Nik Wal­lenda” finds the 40-year-old Florid­ian and his sis­ter Li­jana at­tempt­ing a 1,300-foot walk 25 sto­ries up be­tween 1 and 2 Times Square in New York City. Start­ing from op­po­site sides, the de­scen­dants of the leg­endary Karl Wal­lenda and the Fly­ing Wal­len­das fam­ily of aeri­al­ists will cross in the mid­dle be­fore con­tin­u­ing on to their re­spec­tive end points.

It’s the first high-wire walk for Li­jana since the Feb. 8, 2017, ac­ci­dent that se­ri­ously in­jured her and four oth­ers dur­ing a re­hearsal. For this per­for­mance, the Wal­len­das have been train­ing in the Sara­sota park where the fall oc­curred, which Nik says made for ex­cel­lent men­tal prepa­ra­tion and helped them cope with the mem­o­ries and trau­matic stress dis­or­der from that day.

“It’s just like get­ting in a hor­rific car ac­ci­dent, it’s some­thing you have to deal with,” he says. “But to ac­tu­ally be train­ing right here where that ac­ci­dent hap­pened, there’s some­thing ex­tremely pow­er­ful about that, I feel, and our whole goal in this walk – and re­ally my ca­reer goal at this point in life – is about inspiring peo­ple. And to me, she in­spires me that she’s go­ing to do this, this amaz­ing feat, again, kind of against all odds, if you will.”

Full name: Niko­las Wal­lenda

Birth date: Jan. 24, 1979

Birth­place: Sara­sota, Fla.

Fam­ily ties: He and wife Erendira have three chil­dren; great-grand­fa­ther is Karl Wal­lenda, founder of the Fly­ing Wal­len­das

Land­mark per­for­mances: The At­lantis Par­adise Is­land Re­sort in the Ba­hamas (2010); hang­ing from a trapeze on a he­li­copter above Bran­son, Mo. (2011); the Con­dado Plaza Ho­tel in San Juan, Puerto Rico (2011, 33 years af­ter his great­grand­fa­ther fell to his death there); Ni­a­gara Falls (2012); Grand Canyon (2013); be­tween sky­scrapers in Chicago (2014)

Did you know: Pro­posed to Erendira, the daugh­ter of a Mex­i­can cir­cus fam­ily, on a high wire dur­ing a 1999 per­for­mance in Mon­treal

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