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Preparations underway for Sunday Wallenda walk

Work may go down to the wire, but production crews are already setting the stage for Nik Wallenda’s tightrope act, scheduled to take place Sunday, hundreds of dizzying feet above the Chicago River.

Though the actual tightropes Wallenda will walk won’t go up for a couple more days, cables that will help the daredevil act be broadcast around the world could be seen strung up high above downtown Tuesday afternoon.

The cables — across the Chicago River and between the two Marina City towers — vividly dramatized the danger of his vertigo-inducing high-wire walk.

One — a fiber optic cable for Discovery Channel’s production — crossed the river, mirroring the first leg of Wallenda’s route: a 200-foot aerial path, between one of the Marina towers and the Leo Burnett building on the other side.

A second, strung between the two towers, traces the second leg of Wallenda’s wire-walk, a feat he plans to attempt blindfolded.

And a third, stretched from the AMA building, on the river’s north side, to the Leo Burnett building, will support a camera that will follow every inch of Wallenda’s walk.

“This is not an insignificant logistic and production challenge,” said Howard Swartz, Discovery Channel’s executive producer of the stunt. “The crews got another four or five days to get everything in position and built.”

That means in the coming days, Chicagoans can expect to see more trucks and more crew, especially along Dearborn near the river, as the actual nickel-thick wires Wallenda will be hung and tensioned according to distance, wind and other factors.

“I think we’re all very excited that Nik chose Chicago,” Swartz said. “I can’t think of a more epic city than the home of the skyscraper.”

Contributing: Stefano Esposito

Another sure sign of Nik Wallenda’s imminent arrival — the gleaming white production trucks on Dearborn. | Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times