A bill allowing a member of the daredevil Wallenda family to attempt a tightrope walk across Niagara Falls is making its way through the New York Legislature. The measure was passed last week by the Senate and was expected to come before the Assembly as early as today. Supporters say it would bring tourism and publicity to Niagara Falls, help the economically troubled city, and carry on a fascinating tradition of death-defying stuntsmanship at the thundering waterfalls straddling the United States and Canada.
Jean Francois "the Great Blondin" Gravelot was the first to cross the gorge on a wire, back in 1859. But it's been more than 100 years since anyone has repeated the feat, which is definitely illegal now. Pending legislation would allow Nik Wallenda, a member of the famed "Flying Wallendas," to traverse the gorge before Aug. 30. Wallenda, a seventh-generation tightrope walker, would bear all safety, security, and other costs, as well as release the state from responsibility should something go wrong. Wallenda and his mother completed a high-wire stunt earlier this month at a site in Puerto Rico where Karl Wallenda fell to his death in 1978.