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Nik Wallenda To Walk Tightrope Over Chicago River In November

By Chuck Sudo in News on Sep 17, 2014 6:15PM

Nik Wallenda walks a tightrope over Niagara Falls in this 2012 photo. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Noted high wire artist and acrobat Nik Wallenda is bringing his tightrope act to Chicago Halloween weekend. Wallenda, best known for being the first high wire artist to walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope, will attempt a similar feat walking from Marina City to the Leo Burnett building, 50 stories above street level. In the process, Wallenda will cross the Chicago River; let’s hope his shots are up to date.

The untethered walk on Nov. 2, which will be broadcast live on Discovery Channel to 220 countries, will be in two sections. First, Wallenda will trek from Marina City to Leo Burnett, a walk with the rope set at a 15 degree uphill climb. When Wallenda completes that, he’ll walk back to Marina City and walk a tightrope from Marina City’s west tower to its east tower. (That seems bass-ackwards, doesn’t it? Why doesn’t Wallenda start with a walk between Marina City’s towers, then to Leo Burnett? )

Wallenda sold the sizzle in a statement.

“This is going to be the most incredible tightrope walk of my career,” Wallenda said in a written statement. “I can’t think of a better city to do it. I have fond memories of spending time performing in Chicago and the Midwest with my family. Besides, it’s the ‘Windy City’ and there’s nothing like doing this during winter in Chicago. That’s a challenge for me and I love to push myself to do things that most people think are impossible.”

Well, it’s autumn in Chicago, which may feel like winter to an outsider, and we aren’t certain if walking a tightrope between buildings in Chicago is comparable to doing the same feat over Niagara Falls. But hey, that won’t stop people from gathering downtown to watch it happen live. In the weeks leading up to the walk, Wallenda and his team will consult with engineers to determine the weight capacities of various points on the buildings. The tightrope, which is about the diameter of a nickel, will be tightened based on factors including distance and wind speed, and stabilized every 50 feet by a network of cables.