NEW YORK (Reuters) – The rope is no wider than his thumb, the height is 25 stories up and the length is five city blocks, but what really concerns aerialist Nik Wallenda about his highwire walk in New York on Sunday is his sister.
Wallenda and his sister Lijana plan to walk 1,300 feet (396 meters) across the city’s busy Times Square on Sunday in a live television event that has been six years in the making.
The walk will mark Lijana’s first highwire stunt since an accident while rehearsing an eight-person pyramid in 2017 that broke every bone in her face.
Sunday’s walk, to be broadcast live television as the sun goes down, will be “over two and a half times higher than anything she’s ever walked. It’ll be four times longer than anything, other than in training, that she’s ever walked in a public setting,” Nik Wallenda told Reuters on Thursday.
“I’ll be so focused on her and not on myself. And I really need to be 150% focused on myself, and I know already I won’t be,” he added.
Wallenda is no stranger to stunts. In 2012, he became the first person to walk a tightrope across the Niagara Falls, and in 2014, he walked blindfold between two skyscrapers in Chicago.
On Sunday, he and Lijana will start from opposite ends of the wire, meet and cross in the middle of Times Square, and continue to the opposite side. The wire will be positioned at 235-feet (72-meters) high on one building and 259-feet (79-meters) high on the other, and dips 50 feet (15 meters), organizers said.
Wallenda said the wire rope is just three quarters of an inch (1.9 cm) wide, or a little smaller than a 25 cent coin.
“It’s actually smaller than my thumb,” he said. “It’s over 25 stories up and we’re walking five city blocks and it’s pretty amazing.”
Wallenda hopes that Sunday’s walk inspire others.
“For her (Lijana) to be able to overcome a near-death experience and get back on the wire – I believe it will change and free a lot of people from fear that they’ve been struggling with.”
The walk will be televised live on ABC on Sunday, starting at 8 p.m. ET. (0000 GMT Monday)
Reporting by Reuters Television; Editing by Marguerita Choy