Personally, I rooted for Nik Wallenda on his high wire over Niagara Falls Friday night. I wanted to see him perform well. I wanted the world to be mystified by the feat. And I wanted Western New York to rally around his accomplishment.
I got most of what I wanted.
Yes, there were things about the historic wire walk that didn’t go as people would have liked. There were aspects which disappointed me. I would have liked to have seen him do it without the safety harness, but I didn’t make an issue of it because I knew he would have liked to have done it without the safety harness. In fact, he said he felt like a “jackass” for wearing it. But given he didn’t “use” it, it was sort of a moot point. He proved he could have done it without it.
I thought his pandering for extra donations sullied the event somewhat. But I understand that things end up costing more money than you had planned sometimes and just because it was his dream, I didn’t think he should have to go poor to accomplish it. Besides, it’s not like he held anyone for ransom and said he wouldn't perform without those donations. So I didn’t let it bother me too much.
Aside from those two minor disappointments, I was thoroughly impressed with Wallenda himself. He held himself to a very high standard and proved that with perseverance and faith, we can accomplish our dreams.
Some people thought his open faith while on the wire was a bit over the top. I thought it was awesome to see someone profess their love of God on national television. It seemed like that faith helped keep him on the straight and narrow while crossing the wire.
The one thing that truly bothered me about the Wallenda event, though, had nothing to do with Wallenda himself. Not directly, at least. The thing that bothered me the most was the number of people who took a negative tone about the occasion.
Even before Nik stepped onto that wire to traverse over the falls and slowly make his way into Canada, I was astonished by the amount of people who seemed angry at him. For what, I don’t know, but they wanted him to fail miserably. Some even proclaimed that they wanted him to fall into the abyss.
I lost track of the number of people on Facebook and Twitter who said after the event that they “could have done it,” too. Suddenly everyone was a high wire artist. In earnest, I don’t think those people truly believed they could have done it. They just wanted to let the world know that they didn’t think it was that big of a deal.
There were a lot of people that didn’t think it was that big of a deal. People said it would be a blip and it wouldn’t matter in the long run. The numbers seem to disagree.
Final numbers aren’t out yet, but ABC won that time slot for the first time in six years, I read over the weekend. There were 120,000 people watching live on location, according to estimates. There were said to be hundreds of vendors — on the American side of the falls. Something that hasn’t happened in decades.
I believe that there will be a generation of people who come to Niagara Falls because of what they saw on TV Friday night. And while they’re in Niagara Falls, they’ll venture out into the rest of Western New York and eat dinner, stay at hotels, buy trinkets, etc. The economic influx granted to us by Nik Wallenda will be immeasurable.
I can’t prove that, but I believe it. I have faith, if you will. Just like Nik Wallenda has faith. And with faith, we can accomplish a lot.