Sarasota's Nik Wallenda has tall plans this summer crossing the Niagara Falls on a 1,800-foot high wire.
But before the "King of the High Wire" crosses a natural wonder of the world, he's going to try to fulfill the wonderment of kids and families giving them the behind the scenes look of his daredevil life Saturday at the .
Wallenda will be part of the family-centric Center Ring Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. in the backyard of the Circus Museum. The event is included with the regular admission for the museum $25 for adults; $20 for seniors, $5 for children 6-17; and free for children under 5.
Wallenda says it's fun to talk to get crowds involved and answer their questions — especially from youngsters.
"They ask everything you can imagine: 'Are you crazy? Do you have magnets in your shoes? What do your kids think about?'" he told Patch.
Wallenda says he's going to talk about the history of his daredevil family, his own life and trying to prepare for his performance atop the Niagara Falls set to be televised live on a Discovery cable channel. A date has not been set for the walk, he said, but will most likely be at the end of August.
His family is so well known throughout the seven generations of daredevil performances, that they're called the Great Wallendas. His ancestoral circus roots go back to the 1780s, but it was Karl Wallenda, a German immigrant hired by the Ringling Bros. in the 1920s who created the seven-person chair pyramid where they would form a human pyramid on a high wire.
Nik Wallenda holds six Guinness World Records including one in 2008 for riding a bike the highest and furthest ever on a high wire. If he completes his walk this summer, Wallenda will become the first person to walk on a tightrope across the Niagara Falls.
It's these nearly impossible feats that sets Wallenda's message to crowds as one of inspiration and determination.
"My biggest message and every autograph I sign is 'never give up,'" Wallenda said. "It's always about being inspirational.
"Kids should always stay focus on their goals and also set goals," he continued. "Nowadays people don't set goals for themselves and whatever happens, happens."
Wallenda has three kids of his own and they're learning to walk the tightrope, but at the same time, they're doing their own thing and have their own goals. His daughter is in the Sarasota Ballet, one son plays football and his other son does karate.
"I encourage them as my children to set goals and achieve them and work hard toward them," he said.
Papa Wallenda's latest goal was to walk across the Niagara Falls and took two years of planning.
He just received permits in hand this week after having to get approval from New York state and Ontario provincial governments, having to get laws pass to allow the walk, and approval from the Niagara Parks Commission, which OK'd the idea in mid-February.
Despite those legal challenges, he overcame those "distractions" and is closer to his goal and something kids can relate to in terms of school.
"In school, there's so many distractions this day and age, and as long as you stay focused on your goal, which is to graduate, you will," he said.
But Wallenda isn't through with preparations, including rigging and lining up a two-hour TV special coming out in addition to a series called "Life on a Wire."
No, the distractions won't even stop when he's walking across the tightrope.
"My biggest distraction, which is the most beautiful, natural formation in the worlds, — is the falls," he said.
But it all happens in slow motion.
"When I'm doing an event, it's extremely peaceful to me," he said. Good friend illusionist David Blane tells him the same thing, Wallenda added.
"Your heart rate actually slows down — it's peaceful and relating," he said. "Hopefully I don't fall asleep."