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View from Seneca Casino: Tightrope Artist Practices to Walk Across the Gorge of Niagara Falls

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On Saturday, tightrope artist Nik Wallenda balanced on a two-inch cable, strung between two giant construction cranes outside the Seneca Niagara Casino, as he trained for his 1,800-foot walk June 15 across the Niagara Gorge along the U.S.-Canadian border, reported Don Glynn for the Niagara Gazette.

"This was the first time I've done anything on a cable this size and it was a great experience," Wallenda told with confidence.

When asked if he would consider tethering himself to the wire to eliminate the risk of death, he replied, "I feel like that's taking away from it. I feel like I'm cheating at that point."

He is trained to grab the wire if necessary, Wallenda told the Associated Press.

In mid-June, Wallenda will carefully walk between Terrapiin Point on Goat Island and Table Rock House on the Ontario side of the 175-foot Horse Shoe Falls.

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The event is expected to draw 125,000 spectators to the falls, including international media coverage—an audience comparable to a Kentucky Derby crowd, Glynn said. An additional 300 million people will likely watch the daring stunt on television. ABC will feature three hours of the daredevil's June 15 walk, the network announced on May 11. ABC is taking precaution by airing with a 5- to 10-second delay in the live feed to allow producers time to react in the event something goes wrong.

In anticipation of his walk, the American side of Niagara Falls and the Maid of the Mist, known as the South End tourist district, should experience an influx in visitors to watch Wallenda practice, said Glynn. His schedule includes daily performances from 10:30 a.m. to noon and 3:30 to 5 p.m., weather permitting.

According to Glynn, the plaza in front of Seneca Niagara Casino features numerous vantage points, and the casino should, like other nearby companies, experience a major boost in business.

A seventh-generation member of the Great Wallendas, also known as the Flying Wallendas, Nik considers himself an heir to the family legacy, states the tightrope artist's website. His great-grandfather Karl signed on with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, when he brought the family act to the United States from Germany in 1928. But the crew became renowned for more shocking stunts, such as a seven-person pyramid on the high-wire.

On October 15, 2008, Nik set a Guinness world record for the longest distance and greatest height ever traveled by bicycle on a high wire. He also gained a name for himself by running on top of the "wheel of death" above a 23-story Las Vegas hotel, amongst numerous other death-defying feats.

"It's family history. This is what we do," Wallenda told the AP on Friday.