The Niagara Parks Commission surprised no one yesterday when it denied high-wire artist Nik Wallenda clearance to walk a cable strung across Niagara Falls. The 10-member panel appeared to have made up its mind long before Wallenda, an enterprising 32-year-old, and heir to the Flying Wallendas circus legacy, got a measly 10 minutes to make his case.
The 126-year-old panel has long prohibited what it calls “stunting.” Evidently there can be no exceptions. If we understand chair Janice Thomson correctly, indulging Wallenda is the first step onto a slippery slope that leads to requests from other tightrope walkers, balloonists, river swimmers, kayakers and assorted thrill-seekers seeking a taste of notoriety.
Then come unauthorized stunts by nutty barrel riders. Then come the inner-tube jockeys. Then …
So it’s nothing against Wallenda. Indeed, the commission upholds all kinds of mouldy regulations dating back to the days when you paid three tokens and peeped at the Falls through a hole in a piece of plywood. A full list can be seen here. But we’ve cherry-picked a few as a public service. Because—you know—ignorance of the law is no defence.
Within the Niagara Parks, you cannot:
• play a clarinet
• ride a horse
• take your cat into a swimming area
• possess a catapult
• use insulting language
• throw rocks
• carry a flag
• march in parade formation (this means you, Cub Scouts!)
• do anything that draws a crowd
That last one seems applicable to Wallenda. He did after all predict 125,000 would show up to watch his walk—in addition to the few hundred million who tune in on TV. And yes, the regs do expressly give the commission power to waive the proscription on “stunts and feats.” But we are duty bound to remind you: NO exceptions.
No doubt the commission takes the same zero-tolerance stance toward the depredations outlined above.