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Nik Wallenda, a member of the famed “Flying Wallendas” family of aerialists, walked the half-kilometre, 5 centimetre-width cable stretched across the falls live on American ABC television.
Along the way, suspended over the falls, Wallenda took small, steady steps on a slick cable through swirling winds.
“Oh my gosh it’s an unbelievable view,” he said as he crossed over the falls.
“This is truly breathtaking.”
The American ABC occasionally interviewed him along the walk, asking him about conditions and how he was coping.
“That mist was thick and it was hard to see at times,” he said later in the walk, when he was asked about the greatest challenge.
“Wind going one way, mist another. It was very uncomfortable for a while.”
Soon after arriving in Canada, Wallenda called his grandmother on a mobile phone.
“Hey Oma, I love you,” he said. He said he had promised to call her up as soon as he completed the feat because she could not be there.
The TV network was quick to assure the public that was broadcasting the event with a five-second delay and insisted he wear a safety harness connecting him to the cable – a first for the performer – and warned it would stop broadcasting if he unhooks it.
Wallenda fought the condition at first, eventually agreeing. But he gave himself an out: he would unhook only if directed to do so by his father, who designed the harness and will act as his safety coordinator.
ABC, however, maintained that a problem with the tether would spell the end of the stunt.
“If there is a safety issue, if the tether gets snagged, then Nik would simply sit down on the wire. Untethered, we will not be broadcasting a live image of him,” said Jeffrey Schneider, senior vice president at ABC News.
If the harnessed Wallenda fell, ABC said it would switch its cameras to a wider angle and begin covering the entertainment event as a news story, Schneider said.
Wallenda said roughly a billion people internationally would be watching his 45-minute stunt, but Schneider declined to provide an audience estimate.
Before the event, Wallenda said he was jittery with excitement about fulfilling his childhood dream.
“It’s more anticipation and eagerness, but it’s all coming down to the wire, no pun intended,” Wallenda said at a news conference on Thursday.
There were 4,000 tickets that sold out in less than 5 minutes when the event went on sale in recent weeks, and crowds began gathering early on Friday (local time).
“Hopefully it will be very peaceful and relaxing,” Wallenda said.
“I’m often very relaxed when I’m on the wire.” He added, “There may be some tears because this is a dream of mine.”