The Wallendas Part 3


The media buzz leading up to the Wallenda event was a PR person’s dream.  We had the last male Wallenda descendant.  We had a nice looking blonde woman in her 20s who had overcome an abusive home, drugs and alcohol, and cancer. She was an amputee who walked the tightrope without a net.

And we had a cute three-year-old blond boy who was walking the wire with his dad.

Mansfield University  was sponsoring it to raise money for Angel’s cancer treatment.

The talk was international.

The  caveat was that if anyone of these players fell, the publicity would sour in an instant and be attached to Mansfield University forever.

The evening came.  The gym filled to capacity with around 3,000 people.  All the local media showed up.  The national media included the four major TV networks, Associated Press and a batch of national freelancers.

Steve Wallenda’s circus friends and other performers did their acts and it all worked the way it was supposed to.  The audience was entertained while they waited for the main event.

Finally Steve came out in an outfit Angel made for him.  He walked the wire back and forth, did a few quiet stunts, then put his  son on his shoulders and walked again. The crowd loved it.

Then, as an extra attraction and fund-raiser, the basketball coach, visibly nervous, climbed the ladder, grabbed Steve’s shoulders, and followed the famous Wallenda across the wire and back.  The sports media ate it up.

The climax, of course, was the appearance of Angel.  3,000 people watched her every move as she climbed the ladder, her prothesis in full view (remember this was 1990 when these things weren’t talked about and were usually hidden).

The suspense was nearly unbearable as she took the pole from Steve and stood there, hefting the pole for  balance.  She was pale, but full of confidence.  You could see her blotting out the rest of the world as she zeroed into total focus for what she was about to do.

Slowly, almost hesitantly she stepped out onto the wire.

And I and 3,000 others stopped breathing.

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9 responses to “The Wallendas Part 3

  1. What an awesome story! It’s amazing how this stuff works when all of the right pieces come together so well. the University of Richmond stepped out on a wire today ourselves – we launched our new Web site. Screen shots and explanation of the site available at: http://www.richmond.edu/web-intro.html

  2. Holly, thanks for the note. Checked out your site. Really impressive! It’s obvious that tons of work by a lot of folks went into it.

  3. Steve wallenda

    thank u for writing this article im glad people remember it makes me so happy that my parents memory lives on. sincerely — steve wallenda II

    • My friend Becky who was a good friend and neighbor of your parents when they lived in mansfield, pa when you were just a little boy asked me to try to get in touch with you. She has many articles and information that she has saved for many years hoping one day to be able to pass on to you. Don’t know if you remember playing with Steven, Ben and Chandra when you were a little boy but there are many happy memoriesfrom that time. Wondering if you still have any contact with Diane who also lived in Mansfield. Hope this finds you doing well and looking forward to hearing from you.

  4. The young man who made the comment above me is truly the little boy that you saw on his father’s shoulders that day. He is the last male descendant of the Flying Wallendas. He has so many stories of his past and so much memorabilia and documentation. I work with him and he has grown up to be a fine young man. I am so very proud to call him my friend.

  5. he is not the last…Nik Wallenda Steve the seconds cousin, I believe) walked the wire across Niagara Falls today 🙂

  6. I met you, Steve…New Covenant Academy …many years ago…& I am also friends with Ben & Chandra lol! small world!!

  7. There are many Wallendas left….. Im Steves daughter.All together of Steves kids there are 4 of us.

  8. Nik is out of Karl’s line and Steven had 3 sons including the baby boy who he took out on the wire with Angel. I am a 6th cousin of Gunther’s first wife. Herman and Karl had a brother Willi.who was the grandfather of Anthony Wallenda. I keep seeing people saying “last male” and “Flying Wallendas” even both are not true. I have found many cousins but this story was one of the most touching ones I have found.

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