November 18, 2014
By Neal Tepel
Rochester, New York – For well over a century, the Wallenda family has thrilled audiences with their feats of daring atop high wires stretched hundreds of feet above the ground. Nik Wallenda continues to push the envelope, having traversed Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon and most recently, six hundred feet above the Chicago River with IBEW technicians behind the scenes.
Like all entertainers and showmen, Nik wouldn't have gotten very far without skilled workers behind the scenes. Pulling and securing those wires, managing the setup of the tightrope on each of Nik’s stunts is a highly skilled team of union workers. Those technicians are IBEW linemen – members of IBEW Local 1249, based in Rochester, New York.
Nik's ongoing partnership with Local 1249 and O'Connell Electric began when he was searching for a company with experience and equipment to stretch a high wire across Niagara Falls in 2012 and planning a job across the Grand Canyon.
Most recently these linemen and engineers successfully installed high wires between Chicago's Marina City East and West Towers and Leo Burnett Buildings. This project posed special challenges, including freezing temperatures and high winds as well as last-minute changes. Planning and preparation took several months, and the actual installation of the wires required five days worth of work.
When asked about the trust he places on NECA-IBEW team, Nik said these IBEW guys are amazing and I trust them with my life.
*** These projects have been recorded on video for Electric TV. Viewers have the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes to see and hear from the IBEW linemen working on these shows. Electric TV is sponsored by the National Electric Contractors' Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (NECA-IBEW).