BY STEFANO ESPOSITO
Warning, Chicago: The last time someone so publicly attempted what tightrope walker Nik Wallenda now says he wants to do in November, it didn’t go so well.
Wallenda announced Friday that he plans to walk blindfolded between the Marina City towers. It will be his first time walking blindfolded.
Two years ago, the Chinese tightrope walker known as Aisikaier put on a blindfold and tumbled from his wire over a ravine in south China. Fortunately, he was nearing the end of his walk and survived, after some trees and bushes broke his fall.
To be fair, Aisikaier was also walking backward at the time, something Wallenda isn’t currently planning.
Wallenda, speaking on NBC’s Today show Friday, said that though he has never before performed blindfolded, “I’ve trained a lot intensively actually on blindfolds.”
Wallenda said he’s working on a plan, should things go wrong and he needs to quickly remove the blindfold mid-walk.
“At one point, I thought about doing duct tape over my eyes, first to cover it up, so there’s no way to see,” Wallenda said. “But there is that emergency backup to where I’m going to have to take it off.”
In September, Wallenda — of the famed Flying Wallenda family — announced plans to walk across the Chicago River between the Marina City west tower and the taller Leo Burnett building. At the time, he also said the November event would include a shorter walk between the two Marina City towers, but he didn’t mention a blindfold.
“For both parts of the tightrope walk, I’m going to face challenges like I’ve never experienced before,” Wallenda said in a written statement. “I’ll not only need incredible physical strength to complete this walk, but laser-focused concentration. I’m incredibly excited to show the world what you can do if you put your mind to it, pursue your dreams and never give up.”
The city has yet to approve permits for the event, but officials have said they’ve been working with Wallenda for nearly a year to select the site and that various city departments are involved in the planning.
The event is expected to be broadcast live in 220 countries.