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Wallenda still drawing crowds

CreekFest carnival to host famous aerial act

June 26, 2013 - Carla Wallenda is a daredevil—a title at 77-years-old she's proud to have.

This weekend, Carla will showcase her now famous acrobatic tricks from the top of a 110-foot sway pole during the CreekFest Carnival at Brandon Fletcher Intermediate School.

The Wallenda name is synonymous with high wire acts— Carla's father was Karl Wallenda, who walked across a tight rope spanning the World Trade Center buildings and was the originator of the "Flying Wallendas."

"Since I was 3-years-old all I wanted to do is be out there on a wire," said Carla, a Sarasota, Fla. native. "My dad told me that if I could do a headstand on the wire he'd take me on the road with him. He did not think I could do it, but I did at about 8-years-old. Now, 70 years later, I'm still out there."

In 2012, her nephew Nik Wallenda, crossed the Niagara Falls by tight rope on national television.

A week ago, on June 23, Nik walked on a two-inch wire 1,500 feet directly over the Little Colorado River Gorge.

At CreekFest, Carla will climb to the top of the sway pole, with no safety harness, and do flips, headstands and even stand straight up as the pole sways.

"The climb up there, 110 feet, makes my arms tired now, more than years ago. I'm not scared up there—you can't be," she said. "I sometimes daydream and my mind wanders— I'll look down at the crowd and the neighborhood around. One time I saw a garage sale going on from atop the tower. When I got down I went shopping."

Today Carla travels with Schmidt Amusements of Standish, Mich., performing during the summer months in Michigan.

"I've been in every state except Alaska," she said. "But the insurance and the cost of travel just was too much to continue on my own. About 15 years ago I had crowds of 30,000 coming to fairs and other events."

Karl Wallenda crossed the Tallulah Gorge in Georgia on a high wire at about 1,000 feet on July 18, 1970.

"One of the big problems with wire walking is when it turns under your feet," she said. "The wire can have no twist in it to keep your footing."

On March 22, 1978, Karl Wallenda fell in San Juan, Puerto Rico while crossing between the towers of Condado Plaza Hotel, 10 stories above the ground. He was 73.

"I think I learned it before I even was born," laughed Carla. "My biggest fear is lightning strikes when I'm up there—I get down. But, we are trained to be up there on a wire—I love it and have no plans of stopping. When the good Lord says it's your time to go then that's it—until then I'm going to continue."

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