The wire has been strung, all 1,800 feet of it. The crowds will gaze skyward, and the national TV audience will tune in. Niagara Falls and its surroundings will be primed for their close-up.
Needed now: Nik Wallenda's nerves of steel.
Unless you've just beamed in from another planet, you know that Wallenda, a daredevil descended from a family of daredevils, will wire-walk over the falls tonight on a sturdy but narrow steel cable. He will mingle with the birds and taste the mist, up where no mortal has gone.
Why? Only Wallenda can say for sure.
To thrill us, of course. To test the limits of grace, agility, skill. To write his page in the Wallenda legacy and add his name to the list of great wire-walkers who chose the majestic falls as their backdrop. And to let us, for the moment, forget about mortgages, car payments, to-do lists and earthly concerns.
"The fact is, the world will be watching," said Tim Clark of the Buffalo-Niagara Film Commission, who has seen a battalion of photographers and camera operators arrive to document history. "People will have Niagara Falls on their mind whether they're in Afghanistan, Africa or wherever," he said.
Wallenda's world for those minutes aloft will be narrow. In one of his television appearances this week, he said he'll be looking at the wire in front of him because he needs to focus on a stable object. He will carry a long pole to help in his battle with gravity. His feet will grip the 2-inch strand.
To him, the cable is not thin at all.
"It feels like sidewalk," he said recently after a practice run outside the Seneca Niagara Casino.
Wallenda knows what he's doing. He has prepared himself well. So it matters little that this page wishes him good luck.
But we will, anyway.
Tonight, Mr. Wallenda, Niagara Falls roars for you.