Sarasota welcomes back Nik Wallenda

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SARASOTA – Sarasota welcomed home world-renowned high wire artist Nik Wallenda Friday.

Many people on the Suncoast cheered from afar this past June when Wallenda walked across Niagara Falls on a wire. On Friday, people cheered in person as he returned home, and heard him promise something grand for the future.

Twenty-five minutes changed Nik Wallenda's life. The wire walk across Niagara Falls has changed a lot. The phone definitely rings a lot more, and a lot more people recognize Nik Wallenda. “When I walk down the street in NYC, people will come up and say, 'Are you Nik Wallenda?'

He is the latest in a long line of performing Wallendas. Beyond keeping the trademark name brand alive, the walk across Niagara Falls made Nik the face of circus's most famous family. “Well, it's an honor that you say that, that I am a face of the family. It's always been my dream to build the Nik part of Nik Wallenda.

Today, Sarasota Mayor Suzanne Atwell led the welcome for Nik's first return to his hometown since the Niagara walk. The county commission declared this Nik Wallenda Day, with Commissioner Christine Robinson fittingly delivering the proclamation on a wire.

The event also served to announce Nik's performances in the upcoming season of Circus Sarasota. Though often called a daredevil, Nik describes what he does as a circus act. “My dream is to make circus cool, and for the past couple of generations circus is not looked upon as cool.

To do that, he also plans more events beyond the big top. The next is a walk across the Grand Canyon next summer. It, too, he promises will air on national television, but with one major difference -- no tether, like the one A.B.C. demanded he wear as he crossed Niagara.

“So when negotiating the Grand Canyon, we had four networks come to us that said, ‘we want to do this’, including A.B.C. and I told my managers I'm not worried about finances. I want to make sure that our costs are covered, and I want to make sure I don't have to wear a tether.”

The Wallendas’ work without a net, he says, and though Niagara changed a lot about his life, it did not change that.

Nick says he actually lost money on the walk across Niagara, but the notice he got from it has landed him many well-paying gigs since then.