WINTER HAVEN — It may not have been an active volcano or Niagara Falls, but Nik Wallenda’s late date with Legoland Resort on Friday afternoon was visually classy in its own right.
Hoisting a 28-foot-long stainless steel balance pole studded with a rainbow set of plastic Lego bricks, the Sarasota tightrope walker rocked his modified 75-pound stabilizer — twice the normal weight — on 500 feet of theme park air, about 60 feet above the ground.
Just two links into her 13-minute journey, which started from the ledge of the Battle of Bricksburg ride, the wheel of her park-mandatory safety tether snagged on a connection. Unable to move forward, Wallenda reached behind his back and released his harness. At this point the wire seemed to become more buoyant and the bulky pole seemed unwieldy.
Halfway through its journey to the roof of the Pirate Island hotel, the cable plunged under the branches of an inevitable live oak tree, and the Lego pole grazed the leaves in its path.
“They asked me. They didn’t act like it was an option,” Wallenda said afterward of struggling with an attachment, which family tradition generally despises. “I made it an option very quickly as soon as it got tangled. I couldn’t have walked all the way because the tree would have snagged anyway.
Wallenda’s appearance at Legoland has been delayed for a year due to the coronavirus. And at this weekend’s debut of the park’s PirateFest Watersports Stunt Show, the masked crowds were light on early Friday afternoon.
Still, fans who have seen him complete more scenic missions on the Grand Canyon, Niagara Fallsa Nicaraguan volcanoand the horizons of Chicago and new York lines up for photos and punches afterwards. And 38 members of the Bayside Community Church in Sarasota had come to lean on the rigging shrouds and reduce the slack in the floor.
Wallenda’s father, Terry Troffer, who ran dry in a cart last year on the boiling corrosive gases of the Central American caldera, called Friday’s walk a “piece of cake”. But Wallenda said he couldn’t sleep on Thursday night due to the uncertainty of the ostentatious Lego pole.
“I haven’t practiced with it except when I was up there on the roof yesterday, and it was just for about 10 steps,” he said. ” I am not exaggerating. I’m like ‘Ugh, I don’t like this.’ And I had an extra pole up there if I wanted to bail on it.
But aside from the fact that “I’ve never had a wire fall into a tree,” there were few other surprises. “It was fun, it was awkward.”
Wallenda will hold his next public exhibition closer to home. From February 26-28 and March 4-7, Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota will host another Daredevil Rally, much like the frantic pace, outdoor acrobatic show at the same place last summer. This time, a helicopter performance of his wife Erendira Wallenda is tentatively scheduled.
Whether or not a Lego pole performance will make this map remains to be seen.
“It will definitely go to a museum one day,” he said.