Nik Wallenda performs high-wire act at NJ casino

AP News
Posted: Apr 29, 2011 9:09 PM
Nik Wallenda performs high-wire act at NJ casino

A seventh-generation member of the legendary "Flying Wallendas" performed what he hopes will be a world-record continuation of the family tradition on Friday

Nik Wallenda performed acrobatic moves in "The Wheel Of Death," a rotating steel frame that hung off the side of the Tropicana Casino and Resort's 23rd floor. Earlier in the day, he walked a high-wire inside the casino's shopping area. Both stunts were part of an upcoming television special.

In the outdoor stunt, Wallenda walked inside the wheel for eight to 10 rotations, then climbed on top of it, walked around it and even jumped rope atop it. He did part of the stunt blindfolded.

On the Boardwalk below, several hundred people cheered when he finished.

The wheel is a rotating steel frame with an 8-foot wheel at one end. He'd done the act for about 10 years, he said, but never hanging off the side of a tall building.

In the morning stunt, Wallenda carried a 22-foot metal balance pole and edged out onto the high wire 45 feet in the air atop The Quarter, the casino's shopping and dining enclave, stopping for a bit above one of two enormous indoor palm trees.

He dropped to one knee, got up, then lay down on his back atop the wire _ all without a net or a safety harness as the crowd applauded.

After completing the 100-foot walk _ forward and backward at times _ Wallenda stepped off the wire and pumped his first skyward to applause from those below.

Wallenda said he had noticed the casino's raised ceiling, where clouds are painted on a light blue background, giving the illusion of an outdoor neighborhood under the sky.

"I saw those clouds and said, 'I've gotta walk there!'" he said afterward. "It was an amazing opportunity. I don't get to walk indoors too much."

Christina Arvanites, of Pomona, N.Y., was awed by the indoor stunt.

"It was terrific, especially since I can't walk straight on the floor, let alone on a wire in the air," she said.

Chris Heisler, of Atlantic City, admitted he came to see if disaster would strike.

"I wanted to see if he'd fall," Heisler said. "I watch horror films just to see people die."

Wallenda said it should be several weeks before Guinness World Records Ltd. rules on whether his outdoor stunt qualifies for the world record for performing the stunt off the side of a building.