'King of the High Wire' to cross Inner Harbor

For the second time in 40 years, a member of the "Flying Wallenda" family will wow Inner Harbor crowds Wednesday with nothing between him and the murky harbor waters but a wire cable.

Self-proclaimed "King of the High Wire" Nik Wallenda will follow in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, Karl, "The Great Wallenda." While Karl Wallenda crossed the harbor over 600 feet of wire 60 feet in the air in 1973, Nik Wallenda will ascend a wire stretched 300 feet from the Light Street pavilion to a barge in the harbor, up to a height of about 90 feet.

"I've recreated many of his walks and this is just another one I can do to pay homage to him," Nik Wallenda said Tuesday.

Canadian company Ripley Entertainment organized the stunt to drum up interest in the June 1 opening of its 32nd Ripley's Believe it or Not Odditorium, at Harborplace.

Wallenda's walk will stretch from the balcony over the attraction's entrance, rising upward across the harbor to a barge near the end of the pier at which the USS Constellation is docked. On his feet will be leather moccasins made by his mother specifically for wire-walking, under him will be a 1-inch-thick wire cable, and in his hands will be a long pole for balance.

It won't be the exact walk his great-grandfather took 39 years ago, marking the opening of the fourth annual Baltimore City Fair. But Wallenda, 33, said he was eager to perform in Baltimore when Ripley's invited him.

Among Karl Wallenda's walks Nik Wallenda has duplicated is one between two towers of a hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in June 2011. Karl Wallenda died at age 73 when attempting that walk in 1978.

Nik Wallenda is preparing to attempt to be the first to walk on a wire stretched in front of Niagara Falls on June 15.

Ripley's officials will hold a press conference on the attractions planned for the site at 4:30 p.m., with Wallenda's walk to follow at 5:15 p.m. The walk is expected to take about 15 minutes and will go on as planned if rain in the forecast remains light, spokesman Tim O'Brien said.