Nik Wallenda is home in Sarasota again, and he's already planning several of his next big acts.
Wallenda, the King of the Highwire, was welcomed home at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, after a summer of walking tightropes across Niagara Falls, Charlotte Motor Speedway and between two casinos in Atlantic City.
He's planning to walk across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope without a harness in June 2013 and is also working on walking across the continental divide in Turkey. But first, he has a Circus Sarasota show to plan for that starts Jan. 25. (Tickets go on sale Nov. 1.)
That show will involve his family mixed in with Wallenda's trademark and a surprise, as Wallenda has been known to custom make some of his own acts.
"We'll close the show with of course a wire act, but we're working on some stuff that hopefully no one has ever seen before, and I don't think anyone has done before, to be honest" Wallenda told Patch. "It's hard to say if anything's been done before because so many things have been done before these days."
The Sarasota County Commission also proclaimed Friday as Nik Wallenda Day, which marks the second Nik Wallenda Day in the county's history, Wallenda noted.
"So, I have what? Three hundred sixty-three more to go so I'll have every day of the year as Nik Wallenda Day?" he cracked.
Mayor Suzanne Atwell said Wallenda is "a true son of Sarasota."
"We respect you; we are in awe of you, and you and your family are passionate representatives of this community. And when you soar, we all soar."
As if he hasn't done enough to earn the day, Wallenda had to walk the tightrope one more time—to receive the proclamation from County Commission Chairwoman Christine Robinson, who also braved the three-foot high high wire in dress shoes.
Robinson, a native of Niagara County, N.Y., remarked how proud she made both Sarsaota and the Niagara Falls area, and Wallenda said the messages of thanks and inspiration are still coming to him from fan mail all over the world.
"I literally got thousands of letters and they're still pouring in to my address in Sarasota, letters to my office, thanking me for inspiration," Wallenda said.
While Wallenda is a go-go-go person, he's had some time to reflect on his accomplishments this year—namely the Niagara Falls walk.
"It was a dream of mine since I was 6 years old, and to be able to fulfill that dream is a big deal," Wallenda told Patch. "It has inspired me to chase other dreams and to realize that nothing's impossible."
And actually, before he realized walking the wire was his destiny, he considered at 18 to go to college to be a pediatrician.
"I always wanted to be a doctor, and I just got invited to speak at a college at a graduation ceremony, and I'll be honored with a doctorate degree," Wallenda—or, Dr. Wallenda said.
Well, how about walking across the Grand Canyon, 2,000 feet high, and more than a half mile to get to the other side? It sure appears to be possible now. Wallenda said financing is secured, and he's in talks with a network to air the event.
"I also have the approval before I signed the contract that I will not be wearing a harness," Wallenda said.
The harness issue at Niagara Falls still irks Wallenda said.
"It was very disheartening for me because it's a family tradition that we don't wear harnesses," Wallenda said of ABC's demands, which came two weeks before the walk. "So I almost felt like I was cheated out of my dream in a sense, and to be able to go to the Grand Canyon and do it without a harness means even more."
He predicts cross-cutting winds, updrafts and gusts to be a factor for the Grand Canyon walk, much like the Niagara Falls gusts. From there, his next big event will be walking from Europe to Asia in Turkey.
In between all of his feats, Wallenda will always have Sarasota.
"I absolutely love this city," Wallenda said. "Everything I do, anywhere I go, anywhere in the world, I talk about this city being a destination and being one of the most if not the most beautiful city in the world."
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