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Nik Wallenda Seeks Donations

10:32 PM, Jun 2, 2012   |    comments
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NIAGARA FALLS, NY - Any doubt about interest in Nik Wallenda's tight rope crossing of Niagara Falls two weeks from tonight, was erased in less than ten minutes this morning.

That's how long it took for 4,000 free vouchers for prime seating on Terrapin Point to be snapped up, after they were made available on line and over the phone.

Even the State Parks Department, which arranged the distribution of the free vouchers, was astounded at how fast they went.

"It was almost as if Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift were coming to perform together. It was amazing," said State Parks spokesperson Angela Berti.

"Nik called when he heard about it and he was absolutely thrilled," Wallenda's manager Winston Simone told WGRZ-TV.

Not long after the free vouchers were gone, however, opportunities to buy your way in to a prime viewing spot started showing up on Ebay and Craigs List, with folks who acquired the vouchers at no cost willing to part with them...for up to $100 each.

"We would advise caution there," said Berti, who explained that if someone were to buy just a voucher on line, they might have trouble trading it in for the wrist band they'd actually need to gain entrance into Terrapin Point on the day of the event.

"The vouchers will have everybody's names on them, and you'll need a photo I.D. to redeem it for wrist bands. So, the person who got the voucher needs to be there with photo I.D. to get the band," Berti said.

Essentially that would mean that someone wishing to pay for a prime seat would be wise to have the holder of the voucher pick up the wrist band, and then purchase the wrist band from the the seller.

Despite the demonstrable interest, Wallenda's stunt is encountering money woes and Wallenda is looking for extra cash to help fund his Niagara Falls highwire walk.

Wallenda says sponsorships for the stunt are not enough to pay for the more than million dollars it's costing to pull it off.

In fact he's taken to the internet to try and drum up money, offering everything from autographed posters for $10 to personal lessons on how to walk a wire for just $10,000.

Simone said "unforseen costs", including those associated with drilling and rigging Wallenda's high wire,  have driven the price of staging the event up higher than forecast.

"It's like building a house...sometimes you make estimates and sometimes your actual costs exceed them," Simone told Two On Your Side.

Wallenda is also paying fees to the New York State and Ontario governments to stage the stunt.

"We will pay all our bills," said Simone, who also said there was "no chance" the walk will be cancelled over financial concerns.   

One of the biggest supporters of the effort, New York State Senator George Maziarz (who sponsored the bill to allow Wallenda's walk to occur in the first place) notes that Wallenda has never sought any financial support from the government and says he does not expect him to now.

"Absolutely not, and he's assured me of that," said Maziarz, who when asked if he would support such a request said he would not.

Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Bob Mancuso.

WGRZ-TV, wgrz.com

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