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Wallenda isn't alone on a tightrope in the Falls Much planning and organizing must be done to capitalize on the stunt in U.S., Canada

Canadian officials this month gave the final green-light to Nik Wallenda's plan to wire-walk above Niagara Falls -- and to turn the region into a worldwide media spectacle this summer.

Now, Wallenda and officials on both sides of the border must work to make the grand event happen, and that means figuring out plenty of details before the dawn of summer.

"All parties involved are going to have to come to the table collectively," said John Percy, president and chief executive of the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp.

Those parties include Wallenda; his management, legal and safety teams; city and public safety officials in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Niagara Falls, Ont.; the respective American and Canadian tourism agencies; and businesses that are hoping to capitalize on the much-anticipated event.

Talks have begun -- though not formally on the American side -- but much of the planning revolves around which date Wallenda will actually perform his walk.

When the Niagara Parks Commission approved Wallenda's walk from the United States to Canada, commissioners said they hoped to make as much money off the event as possible. To do that, they said, Wallenda should walk in June rather than July or August, which already are peak months for tourism.

American leaders have a similar philosophy, though Percy and others believe September might be a more ideal date. Tourism leaders here also have to worry about hotel rooms -- the Canadian side has plenty, while the American side could be booked solid if such an event happened during the height of the summer tourist season.

Winston Simone, Wallenda's manager, said that the date would be worked out in the coming weeks and that the walk would occur between late June and early September.

Once a date is set, officials will have plenty of logistics to coordinate.

On the American side, city officials will be taking their cues from Wallenda, as no specific events are planned yet. Once Wallenda decides the type of events he would like to host in the weeks leading up to the walk -- he has talked about visiting local schools, for instance -- the city will mobilize its Special Events Task Force to help streamline the permitting process.

"It's like a one-stop shop," said City Administrator Donna D. Owens, adding that Wallenda would sit at a table with representatives from the Police, Fire, Code Enforcement and Public Works departments and Conference Center Niagara Falls.

"He would have to keep us abreast about what his needs could be, as far as events leading up to the event, press briefings, so that we can provide logistics," she said.

The city has experience handling events, Owens said, such as the Niagara Falls Blues Festival, concerts along Old Falls Street and the Hard Rock Guitar Drop on New Year's Eve.

"If it's beyond our capacity, we know how to seek other assistance and support," she said. "Through the summer we have 8 million visitors, and we manage to control all of that."

Percy, the tourism chief, said his agency has experience promoting the state's first same-sex wedding last summer. This summer's efforts will focus on making sure the expected international media outlets have a place to stay and come away with a positive view of the city.

"They're going to need rooms and lodging all over the county to accommodate them," he said. "There's going to be a large contingent of media that want to come from all over the world."

In the coming weeks, state parks officials will determine parking logistics and how much of Goat Island could be used for viewing the stunt. The natural setting and geography most likely wouldn't allow for as many people to see the stunt as the area above the Canadian side of the gorge.

On the Canadian side, Niagara Parks and city officials are focused on securing a contingency plan with Wallenda, who has said he will cover all safety costs of the event.

Wallenda's associates are negotiating an agreement with the Parks Commission that will include revenue calculations and specify a final date for the walk. The agreement must be signed by March 31.

Wallenda's security team will secure 100-ton clump anchors near the Top of the Falls restaurant on Goat Island and the visitor center at Table Rock in Canada. Setup will be done during the day, though the 1,800-foot cable will not be passed across the Niagara Gorge until the end of the workday.

Other Canadian efforts will focus on promoting the big event to the international tourists who ponder a trip to the falls each year.

"We want to get every last marketing drop out of this," said Niagara Falls, Ont., Mayor Jim Diodati, who has a marketing background. "We want to reach out to all corners of the globe and make sure they're aware of this event."

Diodati said the city plans to install signs near the falls declaring the area the "future site" of Nik Wallenda's famous wire-walk in summer 2012.

Businesses on both sides of the border will be looking to capitalize on the thrust of tourists coming to see the rare spectacle.

The Sheraton at the Falls hotel on the American side will plan events or specials after a date is selected, said General manager Mark Bibb.

Parking figures to be a lucrative business, as well.

"We want to make this a big event for people, so we want to put on our best face for sure, said Tony Farina, president of the One Niagara tourism building and parking lot. "I think for downtown, everyone should just go out of their way to put on a great show for the city and everyone who visits it.

"We have to be prepared for the big day, and we will be."

email: cspecht@buffnews.com