Checking in with NIK WALLENDA
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