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Catch the walk, no ticket needed

So you want to tell your grandchildren and great-grandchildren, decades from now, that you were there on the historic night of June 15, 2012, when Nik Wallenda set out on his high wire to tame the falls?

But you didn't snatch any of the 4,000 tickets for watching the event on the American side. What can you do to ensure your viewing spot for a piece of Niagara Falls history?

Here's a quick guide to viewing the event, up close and personal:

How many people are expected?

The tightrope walk is expected to draw more than 120,000 people on both sides of the river, according to the Niagara Parks Commission.

Do I need a ticket?

Only if you plan to watch the daredevil feat from the only spot on the American side affording a clear, close-up view, at Terrapin Point on Goat Island. All 4,000 free tickets were gobbled up in four minutes on June 1, crashing the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp.'s phone system and website. No tickets are needed to watch the event on the Canadian side.

Where can I watch in Canada?

Along the Niagara Parkway, which officials say can hold up to 60,000 people. That's no vague guess; it's based on prior huge events, such as New Year's Eve celebrations.

At Queen Victoria Place, at the end of Murray Street, viewers will have a panoramic view of the falls and an up-close look at the Jumbotron-like broadcast of the event, said Sarah Wood, Wallenda project manager for the Niagara Parks Commission.

The high-wire act also will be watchable from other spots on the Canadian side, in downtown Niagara Falls, including hotels and casinos that tower over the falls.

What time should I get there?

The latest timetable has Wallenda starting his walk at about 10:15 p.m. Authorities are advising people to make a day … or at least an evening … of the event, partly to avoid a huge last-minute traffic jam. Activities are planned on both sides of the border throughout the day.

What route should I take?

On the Canadian side, the Niagara Parkway will be closed to traffic from Fraser Street to Clifton Hill. The Parks Commission website,, will provide a map showing parking locations, suggested routes and road closures.

Can I get across the bridges to Canada?

Authorities stress two main points about the four local bridges to Canada: Anyone using them needs to bring a passport, passport card or enhanced license. And people should leave for the event early, especially since this will be a Friday night, the start of the weekend.

The Rainbow Bridge, of course, is expected to bring the most traffic. While people can walk across that bridge, they still need to find a parking spot on the U.S. side, bring the proper ID and leave enough time. Authorities will not allow pedestrians to linger on the bridge to watch the event.

"The earlier you leave, whether you decide to drive across the bridge or walk across the bridge, the better it will be," said Brent Gallaugher, manager of agency relations and security for the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission.

How about post-event traffic?

The after-traffic could be heavier, with more people leaving in a concentrated time period. A post-walk fireworks display on the Canadian side should help spread out the traffic somewhat.

Amid all the road closings and restrictions, visitors will get one break: the NEXUS-only Whirlpool Bridge will have its hours extended, to 2 a.m. Saturday.

What if it rains?

Rain or (moon) shine, the event will go on, unless there's a dangerous thunderstorm brewing in the area.