Daredevil Nik Wallenda has become the first person to walk acrossNiagara Falls on a high wire.
Tens of thousands of people gathered at the falls and millions more were believed watching on television as Wallenda crossed some 200 feet in the air on a two-inch-wide wire strung over the raging waters of Horseshoe Falls, the largest of the three falls that make upNiagara Falls.
Wallenda trotted in his final steps across the wire and stepped into Canada, barely 25 minutes after he started.
After he greeted his wife and family, Wallenda was approached by customs agents, who asked him for his passport, which he presented.
“No, I’m not carrying anything over. I promise,” he said.
“What is the purpose of your trip sir?” the agent asked.
“To inspire people around the world,” Wallenda said.
Wallenda said the mist and the winds midway across the walk were the biggest challenge.
“It’s all about the concentration, the focus, and it all goes back to the training,” he said.
“I’m grinning from ear to ear because I can see I’m here. I made it,” he added.
Others have crossed the Niagara River itself, but never over the falls. Wallenda said that tonight’s feat will be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream as well as a chance to honor his great-grandfather, legendary funambilist Karl Wallenda, who died after falling from a tightrope in Puerto Rico in 1978.
Wallenda, 33, has called his great-grandfather his “biggest inspiration” and said he will be thinking of him during the stunt. The 1,500-foot walk between Goat Island in the U.S. side to Table Rock in Canada will be fraught with unforgiving natural conditions: blinding mist and drafts created by the force of the waterfalls crashing down on the Niagara River.
Those obstacles notwithstanding, Wallenda told reporters Thursday that he hopes the walk will be “peaceful and relaxing.”
“Often, I’m very relaxed when I’m walking on a cable like that,” he said, but he added that the historic nature of the event could also mean “there’ll be some tears involved.”
Preparing for the walk took months. In addition to actually practicing for the walk, Wallenda had to secure permission from both U.S. and Canadian authorities. On the Canadian side, giving Wallenda the go-ahead meant granting a one-time exemption on a 128-year ban on stunts. Wallenda’s team also had to devise and implement measures to steady the wire and guarantee that, should Wallenda stumble, safety equipment would keep him from plunging down into the gorge.
Read more of this story on Good Morning America.