Nik Wallenda Crosses Niagara Falls On A Tightrope Wire

Nik Wallenda; Image: Dave Pape, Wikimedia Commons
Nik Wallenda walks the tightrope in Niagara Falls. Image: Dave Pape, Wikimedia Commons

On Friday night Nik Wallenda became the first person to walk over Niagara Falls on a tightrope.

More than 100,000 people gathered to watch the feat, which has taken more than two years and help from many people, including NASA engineers, to accomplish.

Nik Wallenda is a descendant of the famous “Flying Wallendas” family of acrobats.

The stunt was incredible, not just because no one has ever done it before but because it took a lifetime of training and a lot of physical and mental strength to perform.

Niagara Falls creates a lot of mist, which drenched Wallenda most of the time he was on the tightrope. Swirling winds threatened to knock him from his perch, 200 feet in the air above the thundering falls.

All he had to walk on was a two-inch wire that stretched from Niagara Falls, New York in the United States to Niagara Falls, Ontario in Canada. Because Nik Wallenda is American, he had to bring his passport with him and show it to Canadian officials once he’d reached the other end of the tightrope.

He carried a long pole, which he held horizontally in front of him. The pole helped him keep his balance as he walked slowly, one foot in front of the other, across the 1,500-foot wire.

Wallenda wore elkskin moccasins his mother had made for the occasion. They helped him to grip the tightrope with his feet.

He also wore a harness which would save his life if he happened to slip off the wire. He didn’t want to wear it, but the ABC television network that televised the event and gave him money to help offset the enormous cost of the stunt, insisted he have it on for safety.

Nik Wallenda; image: Dave Pape, Wikimedia Commons
The mist swirls around Nik Wallenda during his incredible walk across Niagara Falls. Image: Dave Pape, Wikimedia Commons.

When he was nearly finished his amazing walk, Wallenda knelt down on one knee on the wire and gave a fist pump. Then, he ran the last 10 or so steps to the end before getting off the wire and embracing his family.

The next thing he had to do was to check in with Canada’s immigration officials, who asked him to produce his passport. He pretended he’d forgotten it and would have to go back across the tightrope to get it. But he did have it with him, and when the officials asked him the routine question they ask everyone entering the country, “What was the purpose of your trip?” his answer was: “To inspire people all over the world.”

The official replied, “You have.”

By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
How did Nik Wallenda “inspire people all over the world”? Did his walk inspire you?

Reading Prompt: Making Inferences
Today’s article explains,

“When he was nearly finished his amazing walk, Wallenda knelt down on one knee on the wire and gave a fist pump.”

Why do you think Nik Wallenda paused to do this before he finished crossing the Falls? What do you think Nik Wallenda thought at this amazing moment?

Make inferences about texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts as
evidence (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Use stated and implied ideas in texts to make inferences and construct meaning (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Develop and explain interpretations of increasingly complex or difficult texts
using stated and implied ideas from the texts to support their interpretations (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Grammar Feature: Adjectives
There are a lot of descriptive words in this article to describe the wire, the balance pole and the winds. These are called adjectives.

Make a list of the adjectives used in today’s article. What do you notice about all of the adjectives on your list?