The whole country held its breath as daredevil Nik Wallenda walked across Niagara Falls live on television during the ABC broadcast of the show "Mega-Stunts."
But for his next death-defying act, Sarasota's self-proclaimed "King of the High-Wire" wants to stay a lot closer to home.
City leaders had lot of safety concerns, but in the end, they said he does not have to wear a tether. In fact, two commission members were jockeying to second the motion, that he not have to wear one. They are so pumped for this stunt, when Wallenda takes a walk in the air over U.S. Highway 41, Tuesday, January 29th at 10:30 in the morning.
"Mr. Wallenda should be able to do this without a tether, it's part of our history here," said Commission member Shannon Snyder.
Wallenda is a happy man.
"Absolutely! I had goose bumps! It's such an honor when a city believes in you the way this city believes in me," he said.
The Sarasota City Commission unanimously said no to a tether, so the daredevil can pull-off a high wire stunt sure to put his hometown in the world spotlight.
"My slogan is never give up, so no matter what, I'm gonna pursue things, I'm gonna do it respectfully," said Wallenda, beaming. "Many people say, well you know, who cares, let 'em tell you to wear a tether, and pull it off halfway through. But that's just not the way I work, I'm a man of my word, I'm a man of integrity, and I want to do things the right way."
Wallenda said he wasn't even aware there was an issue about a tether until Tuesday, when a New York Times reporter phoned him.
"I got a call from them saying, hey, we're hearing that your city, your own city's gonna make you wear a tether, almost jabbing my city, and I said, I don't think it's gonna happen," Wallenda said.
He was right. Still, Wallenda had to sign a clause releasing the city from any liability. And it will cost the City between $6,000 and $8,000 to cover the police and security needed for the stunt.
Wallenda wowed the crowds two years ago, when he walked a wire suspended between a condo building and The Ritz Carlton.
This time, he will walk from a crane across U.S. Highway 41 to the roof of a building, a distance about 100 feet less than his 2010 walk.
"The last one that I did here in Sarasota, they estimated 10,000 to 12,000 people, and I hope just as many people show up to watch this one," he said.
According to Wallenda, New York Governor Mario Cuomo changed a 100-year old law to permit him to go without a harness last summer. But ABC, which broadcast it during a show called "Mega-Stunts," forced the issue, which was a first for Wallenda.
"They sort of freaked out because of an event I was doing leading up to that, where I did a little bit of showmanship on the wire in Baltimore, and it really scared them," Wallenda said.
The City will send a letter to FDOT and the Governor, so they're on board as well. Commission member Shannon Snyder called Wallenda "the" international ambassador to the city.
Wallenda said if he had been forced to wear a harness, he would have done the stunt in another city.
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