Wallenda visits

They say it’s going to be a big event. Concerts. T-shirts.

Perhaps even a laser light show on the Williamstown Bridge.

Rick Wallenda – grandson of Flying Wallendas patriarch Karl Wallenda and cousin to Nic Wallenda, whose recent walk on a tightrope over a gorge near the Grand Canyon drew national attention – was in town Monday afternoon to start logistical planning for his walk across the Ohio River from West Virginia to Ohio.

“I grew up doing that,” Rick said of walking a tightrope. “I learned an awful lot from that man (Karl Wallenda). The more I do this, the more I realize how much I learned from him. It’s an honor to have grown up in his shadow.”

Rick also said the event will be an honor to him and to Robbie Knievel’s father, Evel Knievel.

Wallenda will join Robbie Knievel as he attempts to jump the Ohio River from Ohio to West Virginia on a motorcycle Oct. 19.

After a lunch including Williamstown Mayor Jean Ford and Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews, Rick, cousins Blake and Rietta Wallenda and Marietta resident Wei Sheng at the Lafayette Hotel, the Wallendas took a tour of the bridge to further discuss details such as length and height of the bridge, placement and number of barges needed, if the Army Corps of Engineers will limit barge traffic during the event, the type of cable to be use for the walk and the number and position of cranes.

Rick said a crane likely would be used at either end of the bridge to hoist into place the cable on which he will walk. He said the cable could be attached to the bridge with zip-ties. Once the cranes begin to lift the cable to at least 1,200 feet above the water, the zip-ties will break.

The event also is intended to be a promotion for Ohio Outdoor Heaven, local businessman Sheng’s brainchild in the area near the Lower Salem exit of Interstate 77. The plan includes a hotel and room for hunting, fishing, shooting, an amphitheater and ziplines.

“It’s all about having families here instead of spread out,” Sheng said.

Rick Wallenda said several members of his family are working in the business and training to carry on the Wallenda name, including Blake Wallenda and Rietta’s daughter, Lyric.

Rick also mentioned his 77-year-old mother, Carla, who will perform on the swaypole during the October event in town. The swaypole is a tall, flexible pole that sways to and fro while the daredevil performs on top.

“She has had the longest running career of any daredevil in history, and we’re trying to get her in the Guiness Book of World Records,” he said.

The visit concluded Monday with an inspection of the bridge from the Williamstown landing and meeting with the mayors at S&P Harley-Davidson in Williamstown to discuss logistics of Wallenda’s walk across the river.