NIAGARA FALLS, NY (WKBW) It was the first time back to WNY for Nik Wallenda since his historic walk across Niagara Falls on a wire, and along with the standard taking pictures and shaking hands, Wallenda wants to play a continuing role in the area, and he wants to do so on this side of the border.
Appearing with New York State Senator George Maziarz and Assemblyman John Ceretto, Wallenda spoke about a "Wallenda Family Experience Center," a semi-permanent circus tent-like structure at first, paving the way for a permanent building, that would be built to house Wallenda family performances and also give visitors a chance to re-live his walk across the falls. The idea was brought up in theory as Wallenda was preparing for his walk, but now plans are already in motion, and the stunt-man says he prefers to have it on the American side of the falls.
"There is a piece of my heart here. I said it since day one after the walk. There is no question there is a connection. There was since I was six years old, but now everyone knows about it. At that point it was just me. So it's important to me to help this area," Wallenda said.
The aerialist says he has already started talking to developers and looking at artistic renderings, and the center could be opened by next summer at the very earliest.
Wallenda and local officials say the availability of land, his U.S. citizenship, and his commitment to help Niagara Falls have pushed him towards favoring the American side for future plans.
"It's important to me to help this area. This area has been great to me, the community has been amazing, and they've been there with me from the beginning. Many people supported this event and if it wasn't for their support as well as these two gentlemen here, I wouldn't have been able to fulfill my dream. So because they gave to me, I want to give back," Wallenda said.
Local politicians are also working on a permanent plaque or memorial where Wallenda's cable was anchored on the U.S. side, all part of Wallenda's continued presence in Western New York long after he completed his June 15th walk.