Sarasota officials will have to do their own balancing act Tuesday night to help expedite approval of a request by Nik Wallenda to cross U.S. 41 on a highwire.
Wallenda will formally make the request in front of the City Commission during the evening session, begging at 6 p.m., at City Hall to gain city approval for the daredevil act that will feature a high wire 500-600 feet long.
If approved, the projected stunt date is Tuesday, Jan. 29. Diagrams of the walk show the high wire running from Marina Tower on the corner of Cocoanut and Gulf Stream avenues, over Bayfront Drive, and ending near the Unconditional Surrender statue on Island Park Drive. Wallenda last crossed Sarasota on a tightrope in 2010 between the One Watergate condo building to The Ritz-Carlton.
The Sarasota resident is getting ready for his Circus Sarasota show that runs from Friday, Jan. 25 to Friday, Feb. 15 under the big top at Tuttle Avenue and 12th Street, across from Ed Smith Stadium. Wallenda is still riding high after crossing Niagara Falls before more than 13 million people watching on TV on June 15, 2012. This summer, he is preparing to cross the Grand Canyon this summer, without the aide of a safety harness.
Wallenda told The Herald-Tribune that when the world sees this feat, it will highlight the beauty of Sarasota:
"I love that spot,” said Wallenda of the vista from Marina Tower. “From there, you can see Bird Key, Longboat, St. Armands Circle, the beautiful water, Ringling Bridge — I want to show off this city.”
Circus Sarasota is joining Wallenda to put in the request, asking the commission to underwrite the city costs of the event, according to an email to the commission by Jennifer Mitchell, director of marketing for Circus Sarasota.
Florida Department of Transportation would also have to approve the event as the high wire crosses a state road.