The Flying Wallendas conquered the Big Apple on Sunday night.
Nik Wallenda, a seventh-generation acrobat, and his sister, Lijana Wallenda, coming back after a near-fatal accident in 2017, when she broke nearly every bone in her face, crossed Times Square in New York City on a high wire between skyscrapers, 25 stories above the pavement.
“Thank you, Jesus, glory to you, Holy God,” Lijana said on air as she crossed on the wire.
Aerialists Nik Wallenda, top, stepping over his sister Lijana as they walked on the high wire above Times Square on Sunday. (AP Photo/Jason Szenes)
The siblings walked from opposite ends of the 1,300-foot wire suspended between the towers, crossing each other in the middle as she sat on the wire.
They were listening to Christian Gospel music as they crossed, and they were wearing tethered safety harnesses mandated by the city in case they fell.
“It is my passion,” Lijana said when asked why she did the wire act. “I forgot who I was after the fall. … I finally remembered who I was (during training). … I had to push through.”
In 2017, Nik Wallenda was among eight performers rehearsing in pyramid formation when sister Lijana began to wobble. The group was about halfway across the wire.
Dramatic video showed five performers plummeting to the ground, while Wallenda and two others catch themselves on a wire and Circus Sarasota staff rush to help.
No one died, which doctors who treated the fallen performers said was “miraculous.”
Pastor Joel Osteen prayed for the Flying Wallendas before their time in the air.
“Fear is a liar,” said Dr. Jonathan Fader, a sports psychologist, about the siblings’ athletic prowess and mental fortitude that prepped them for the feat.
Footage of the siblings’ preparations and their family’s history of death-defying stunts also aired during the two-hour prime-time special.
The Wallenda family has been a star tightrope-walking troupe for generations, tracing their roots to 1780 in Austria-Hungary, when their ancestors traveled as a band of acrobats, aerialists, jugglers, animal trainers, and trapeze artists. They never use nets in live shows or in rehearsals.
In 1978, 73-year-old Karl Wallenda fell to his death from a high wire strung between two buildings in Puerto Rico. In 1962, Karl Wallenda’s nephew and son-in-law died, and his son was paralyzed, after a seven-person pyramid collapsed during a performance.
Nik Wallenda’s high-wire walks above Niagara Falls, the Chicago skyline, and the Little Colorado River Gorge near Grand Canyon National Park were broadcast on national television. Four months after the fall in Sarasota, his wife, aerialist Erendira Wallenda, hung by her teeth from a helicopter over Niagara Falls.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.