It's a once-in-a-century occasion in Niagara Falls, New York: Tonight, for the first time since 1896, a man is set to walk across the falls on a tightrope. "I'm facing Niagara Falls—the wind and the mist and the dark and the peregrine falcons—and I’m going to stay focused on the other side," Nik Wallenda tells reporters. In at least one way, Wallenda's walk will be even more intimidating than earlier attempts: His rope is positioned just over the falls, which spray plenty of water, while earlier daredevils crossed a calmer section. But on the other hand, it may be a little safer.
Wallenda will be wearing a safety harness at the urging of ABC, which was wary of the risk of airing a death on TV during its live 8pm ET broadcast. But Wallenda says he could take it off if it gets cumbersome. The New York Times chats with Niagara visitors about the stunt: "I think he’s absolutely crazy," says one. Another pooh-poohed the presence of the harness: "I think it was good until he had to wear the safety line. I would try it if I had a safety line on.” For Wallenda (who will be wearing suede- and leather-soled moccasins designed to prevent him from sliding when the wire gets wet), it's the fulfillment of a childhood dream; now, "it's coming down to the wire, no pun intended," he says.