And so it begins…the whole circus that began when Nik Wallenda tried to convince Niagara that his walk over the Falls would bring back the bygone era of daredevils and showmanship and more importantly, bring in millions of tourist dollars. It all culminates tonight with the spectacle taking center stage. Or does it?
As interested as I am in this walk…I am just as interested in what happens after. Will this event change Niagara Falls for good? I have a feeling it will.
What we are seeing here this week is a 2012 version of what it was like in the late 1800s during the heyday of Blondin and the Great Farini. Tourist streaming in. Hotels filling up…local businesses cashing in. In the old days, of course, the carnival atmosphere didn’t stop at Clifton Hill. The souvenir stands and circus side shows lined the banks of the river and people arrived by the thousands by train to watch people walk over the river on stilts, with buckets on their feet or dropping down to the deck of a boat drinking champagne and crawling back up.
Will this be a once in a lifetime event? How can it be? If this is the financial windfall that backers have claimed it will be, then the pressure to do something like this again will be enormous…it will be irresistible. The doors where thrown open when the NPC reversed its course and allowed this to happen and their claim that it can only happen once every 30 years is simple window dressing. The number of people applying to stunt since Wallenda’s walk was announced has gone up immensely and soon someone will come up with a plan to top Nik’s walk and the debate will be on.
I fear that tonight will have changed Niagara Falls permanently. At some point we have to choose which Niagara Falls vision we agree with. The natural wonder Niagara that celebrates the sheer magnificence of mother nature’s creation like the Grand Canyon…or the Wax museum, video arcade circus atmosphere of our distant past. Remember when they said they’d never allow a casino? I have a feeling we’ve made that decision already.