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Nik Wallenda Wants to Walk a Wire High Above the Chicago River

By  Ted Cox and Quinn Ford | April 3, 2014 2:18pm 

 The King of the High Wire will perform in Chicago this fall, the Discovery Channel announced Thursday.
Nik Wallenda Brings High-Wire Act To Chicago Skyline
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THE LOOP — Daredevil Nik Wallenda wants to come to Chicago for his latest death-defying act, taking an untethered walk on a highwire at some point across the Chicago River, officials said.

Ald. Brendan Reilly said Wallenda's production team has "started to engage" building owners "where this act might occur. But until property owners give their consent I can't even review this."

The latest generation of Wallenda family daredevils, Wallenda has successfully crossed the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls.

Discovery Channel announced Thursday he is planning to do an "untethered" walk across Chicago's skyline.

Reilly said he's eyeing the river.

"Wallenda is interested in doing a special event in downtown Chicago, in particular across the Chicago River. Many approvals need to be secured before that can happen," Reilly said. "If they say no, it's a non-starter."

"I have no problem with it. Obviously, the primary concern is that it be safe, that it's not done during rush hour. But it's my understanding they would do this in the evening or on a weekend when it's less disruptive. But this is the very, very early stages. I can't tell you with certainty that it will happen. There are a lot of ifs."

The event will be broadcast live by the Discovery Channel. Wallenda's last stunt, an untethered walk across a section of the Grand Canyon, was broadcast live, albeit with a slight delay. According to Wallenda's website, it was broadcast in 183 countries, and seen by more than 23 million people in the U.S.

"I understand that the ratings for these shows is tremendous," Reilly said. "It's another way to show Chicago in a positive light to people otherwise unfamiliar with the city. That can be a good thing. Let's make sure the property owners are onboard first."

Eileen O'Neill, president of the Discovery, Science and Velocity Networks, said in a statement: "I am excited about Discovery's Upfront programming slate with even bigger live events, including our follow up to Skywire Live. Our next year will be epic."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events confirmed the city is coordinating with Wallenda and the Discovery Channel to plan the event.

The department will also be working closely with the city's police, fire and building departments to secure proper permits and notifications, said spokeswoman Mary May.

"All the details need to be ironed out such as date, time and location as well as all of the proper permitting that goes along with film productions," May said. "The specific location in the city has not been determined, but we know the Chicago skyline is picturesque from any viewpoint."