Jun 15, 2012 / 11:59 am
Crowds are gathering in Niagara Falls, Ont., well ahead of aerialist Nik Wallenda's attempt to be the first person to walk across the falls on a tightrope.
The walk isn't scheduled to start until 7:20 p.m. PST, but Muriel Marsh, 81, came from Paris, Ont., about 120 kilometres away, last night and staked out her spot on a lawn chair at 7 a.m. today.
She says Wallenda is "very brave" to be stepping out on the wire, and seeing him attempt the crossing is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Bert Dandy and his family are sitting near Marsh's chair on a hill that will provide them an unobstructed view of the whole crossing.
He says people have been offering him $20 a chair, he's got five of them, to give up his spot, but he won't.
The Niagara Falls resident says even though he worked the night shift and hasn't slept he's too excited for Wallenda's walk to be exhausted.
Wallenda will cross from the American side to the Canadian side of the falls at 7:20 p.m. PST on a 500-metre wire suspended 60 metres above the churning water.
Others have crossed the water on tightropes, but over the gorge downstream and not for more than 100 years.
Wallenda estimates that the walk will cost him $1.3 million, the pricetag includes the fabrication and installation of the custom-made steel wire, permits and security on both sides of the border as well as travel and marketing.
He is recouping some of the costs through a deal with ABC to air his walk on a live special, which will air on CTV in Canada.
The Niagara Falls Parks Commission expects 120,000 people to gather on the Ontario side of the falls when he attempts his walk.
Wallenda, 33, comes from a long line of aerialists as a member of the Flying Wallenda family, and has big, though nimble, shoes to fill.
But it won't be an added burden to Wallenda, his father said.
"I don't think it's a lot of pressure, I think for him it's a lot of pleasure," Terry Troffer said in an interview. "He's just thrilled that he can carry on the family tradition."
During Wallenda's crossing Troffer will be in a control room filled with producers and directors managing the live television special and will have a direct line to his son.
Troffer, himself an accomplished wire walker, will be talking to Wallenda through an ear piece his son will wear, talking him through the wet and windy conditions that are likely to arise.
"I would just be there as a calming voice in the event that he were to feel overwhelmed with several different things coming at him all at once,'" Troffer said.
"Just fatherly advice that any father would give to their son who walks across Niagara Falls," he deadpanned.
Wallenda will be wearing a tether, ABC insisted, but he isn't pleased to keep him from plummeting to his death.
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