Watch LIVE

Daredevil Nik Wallenda Defies the Heights, Completes Two-Stage Tightrope Walk Above Chicago


"What an amazing roar!"

Image source: YouTube

CHICAGO (TheBlaze/AP) — Daredevil Nik Wallenda wowed Chicago and the world Sunday with two hair-raising skyscraper crossings on the high wire without a safety net or a harness.

Image source: YouTube Wallenda back on solid ground. (Image source: YouTube)

Thousands of cheering fans packed the streets around the city's Marina City towers to watch the 35-year-old heir to the Flying Wallendas' family business complete the back-to-back walks including one wearing a blindfold.

Image source: YouTube Image source: YouTube

As he stepped from the wire after completing the second leg, he tore off his blindfold and waved to the crowd of thousands below who erupted in cheers.

Image source: YouTube Image source: YouTube

The spectacle was telecast almost-live on the Discovery Channel so producers could cut away if Wallenda fell.

Wearing a bright red jacket, Wallenda tested the tension of the wire around 6 p.m. It took him about six and a half minutes to walk the wire at a 19-degree incline from the Marina City west tower to the top of a building on the other side of a river.

"I love Chicago and Chicago definitely loves me," said Wallenda as he walked the wire, with the crowd of thousands below him screaming in support. "What an amazing roar!"

Here's what it looked like from the ground:

And from the daredevil's perspective:

The next stage of Wallenda's high-wire event he undertook blindfolded — a walk between the two Marina City towers, Chicago landmarks with Hollywood credits. At a fast clip, he made the stretch in little more than a minute.

At around 6:40 p.m., just minutes before the anticipated start of his high-wire feat, Wallenda, who lives in Florida, said the chilly conditions in Chicago would not stall him.

Months of preparations have meant helicopters lifting cable to the rooftops, road closures and clearances from the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Coast Guard. Residents of Marina City have been asked not to use laser pointers, camera flashes or drones that could interfere. Even grilling has been prohibited.

Hours before the tightrope walk, Scott Jensen of Schaumburg, a Chicago suburb, waited to watch the spectacle with his 15-year-old son, Matthew, and Matthew's friend Tommy Demaret, also 15. They were bundled up and eating sandwiches while seated on a concrete planter with a nearly straight-overhead view of the high wire.

"I think anybody who does something like this is crazy and it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see it," Scott Jensen said.

Journalists covering Sunday's event signed waivers relinquishing their right to claim emotional distress if they witness a catastrophe.

A year before Wallenda was born, his great-grandfather fell to his death during a tightrope stunt in Puerto Rico. He was 73.

Wallenda says after Chicago he wants to recreate a 1,200-foot-long high-wire walk made famous by his great-grandfather. Karl Wallenda's stunt at Tallulah Falls Gorge in Georgia included two headstands on the high wire.

"Life is on the wire," Karl Wallenda once said. "Everything else is just waiting."

This story has been updated.

Most recent
All Articles