Tallulah Gorge Skywalk Celebration 2015 Nik Wallenda
Tallulah Gorge Skywalk Celebration 2015 Nik Wallenda: While a number of things remain outstanding, it is looking very hopeful that Aerialist Nik Wallenda will agree to Skywalk Tallulah Gorge in celebration of his Great Grandfather’s walk on July 18, 1970. Learn how we are working hard to make this event happen:
In the cherished memories of the people of the NE Georgia Mountains, few are as deeply revered as the memory of seeing Karl Wallenda walk the high wire across the deep and thundering Tallulah Gorge. Museums and visitor centers throughout Georgia display photos of that walk and the story is told and retold by people who were in the crowds on July 18, 1970. It is reported that 30,000 people watched as Karl performed two headstands during the quarter-mile Skywalk. “It would be, aside from madness, the second greatest walk of all time: the moon, the promoters conceded reluctantly after lengthy debate, deserved top billing.” (1970 Sports Illustrated coverage).
Since the 1700’s the Wallenda family has been famous as a generational family of aerialists. Born in 1905, Karl and his family emigrated from Germany to the U.S. in 1928. Performing without a net was Karl’s hallmark. His most famous walk was the 1200’ walk across Tallulah Gorge.
The Rabun County Tourism Development Authority (TDA) sought a way to commemorate the amazing feat that Karl achieved at Tallulah Gorge nearly 45 years ago. The “Skywalk Celebration” was conceptualized to commemorate Karl Wallenda’s accomplishment, and to promote Tallulah Gorge State Park, which opened to the public in 1993. Long revered as one of the most dramatic and deep canyons in the eastern United States, Tallulah Gorge is ranked as one of the Seven Wonders of Georgia.
As enthusiasm for the Skywalk Celebration grew, Karl’s great-grandson, Nik Wallenda, was accomplishing amazing feats of his own. During the broadcast of Nik’s 2012 walk across Niagara Falls, ABC News broadcast original film footage of Karl Wallenda’s walk across Tallulah Gorge. Nik Wallenda was quoted as saying he wanted to follow in his great-grandfather’s footsteps and replicate his major accomplishments. That provided a natural segue to inviting Nik to be part of the Tallulah Gorge Skywalk Celebration.
In February, 2013, the TDA sent a letter of inquiry to Nik Wallenda, telling him about the planned event and asking him to consider a Skywalk of Tallulah Gorge in 2015 to commemorate and celebrate the 45th anniversary of his Great Grandfather Karl Wallenda’s walk. Over the summer and fall a number community members came forward and volunteered their expertise to help map and plan this event. Then TDA Board Chair, Gayle Darugh, first enlisted Joy Spears Walstrum of Hurst PR, Atlanta. Joy grew up in Rabun County and couldn’t wait to assist the TDA in planning a strategy to make it all happen. An initial meeting was held with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Tallulah Gorge Park Manager, State of Georgia Law Enforcement, Georgia Power, Rabun and Habersham County law enforcement, medical teams, elected officials, and community leaders. The meeting confirmed the event was one our communities would like to facilitate and it would be something that could be powerfully good for local economic development and tourism. Everyone approached it with a “can-do” attitude so long as technical and safety feasibility proved positive.
During the summer of 2013, the TDA was introduced to Aimee Berger who is active in Rabun County through her involvement with summer youth camps through a music program she founded named “Camp-li-fy”. One of her colleagues, Lori Waldman is the owner of Blue Ridge Camp in Mountain City, GA, a unique business that brings excellent revenues into our communities. Lori also sits on Rabun County TDA’s Special Events Task Force and provides resources through her yearly retreat events. It was by sheer coincidence that we should be actively pursuing Nik Wallenda and Lori Waldman should mention that Aimee Berger was part of the same company with access to Nik’s professional management team. Lori and Aimee opened the door for more serious conversation with the Wallenda team.
In October, 2013 Morgan Spears and Danny Pederson, both graduates of Rabun County High School, began production of a documentary about the Wallenda connection to Rabun County through their Atlanta based company, Doppkit Media, to entice Nik to come to the Gorge. If Nik does come they plan to include his walk in the documentary.
After the invitation was sent the TDA Board learned through Nik’s own Twitter post that he had stopped in Rabun County to visit Tallulah Gorge. https://twitter.com/NikWallenda/status/363829576712994816. This was exciting news. But even more exciting was seeing in the news that Nik Wallenda publicly expressed his interest in walking Tallulah Gorge. This occurred during an interview with AP Wire reporter Jeff Martin after visiting Georgia to perform a wire walk at the Georgia Dome for the 2014 Winter Jam. http://jacksonville.com/news/georgia/2014-02-28/story/nik-wallenda-plans-high-wire-walk-over-tallulah-gorge-july-45-years
Nik’s appreciation of family and tradition are obvious and appreciated locally. That’s why Rabun and Habersham Counties can offer him a unique opportunity to enhance his family legacy with a story that combines his family history with his array of career achievements, and especially, a story that spans 45 years of a special connection between generations dedicated to an epic form of entertainment.
The Rabun County TDA is hopeful that the convergence of the anniversary date, the location for rigging, and the support of our communities will come together in a celebration with so many facets: Tallulah Gorge Skywalk Celebration 2015 Nik Wallenda in the North Georgia Mountains!
Gayle M. Darugh, Event Chair, Tallulah Gorge Skywalk Celebration 2015, Rabun County Tourism Development Authority
Tallulah Gorge Skywalk Celebration 2015 Nik Wallenda
Read more news about Nik Wallenda and Tallulah Gorge http://www.independentmail.com/news/2014/mar/16/the-story-of-the-great-wallenda-walk-may-have/
Read about the history of Tallulah Gorge and who first walked the Tallulah Gorge http://www.independentmail.com/news/2014/mar/16/tallulah-the-tight-rope-and-tourism-a-for-years/
Rabun County Tourism Development Authority