This Friday, Nik Wallenda, a seventh generation member of the legendary “Flying Wallendas” circus family, will scare the living Milk Duds out of all who gather at the Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Don’t get us wrong, we love watching someone put their life on the line by performing stunts that are demonstrably proven to be deadly. We enjoy mostly the feeling of helplessness as we watch a circus performer or escape artist struggle to prevent the logical outcome of the circumstance he or she brought about. We show our pure pleasure by screaming like a 12-year-old girl, hiding our eyes, and darting from the scene of a likely fatality.
We cannot abide people leaning back in their chairs, much less leaning back in a chair atop a high wire strung between two fixtures not intended for the purpose by something only slightly more sophisticated than a shade-tree mechanic’s come-along.
Houdini wrote, “No one wants to see someone die, but they want to be there if it happens.” Houdini never met the wimpy, effeminate side of your author. Perhaps it is a result of seeing too many victims of poor judgment or bad fortune buried at a young age or confined to wheelchairs. Or perhaps we are just lacking the calloused protection living in this world requires. Either way, we’re not going to be there and we’re not going to think about it after this article is published.
Ironically, we yearned to be a tightrope walker and worshiped Philippe Petit. Life was good until we realized we were not exempt from the laws of gravity or probability; and despite our teenage intuition to the contrary, we were not immortal.
Mr. Wallenda’s title “Daredevil for the 21st century” is accurate. He comes from a long line of performers in a family intimately familiar with the spectacular and tragic. He goes into the two stunts with full awareness of how disaster can come from even the most meticulous planning.
He will perform a high wire walk across Fiesta Plaza in The Quarter at the hotel at 11 a.m. Five hours later, Mr. Wallenda will perform the “Wheel of Death,” at 4 p.m., from atop the 23rd story of Tropicana’s South Tower.
The Wheel of Death is appropriately named. You have no doubt watched circus performers ride this large rotating apparatus while flipping, jumping and twisting inside and outside of the eight foot steel wheel balanced against a rapidly revolving 50 foot steel arm.
Mr. Wallenda hopes to be the first to perform the Wheel of Death “from off the side of a building” or on the wheel mounted 250 feet above pavement. If he is successful, he will set two world records.
Mr. Wallenda told reporters he wanted to perform the Wheel “atop an amazing building in an iconic location.” commented Nik Wallenda. “The chance to do this at the Tropicana in Atlantic City is a huge dream come true for both the challenge and the beauty of the location,” Wallenda added.
The attempts will be filmed for a new television series to debut this summer. There is no cost to attend save the mental anguish and feelings of helplessness.
For more information, visit www.tropicana.net.
Visit Nik Wallenda’s website at http://nikwallenda.com/