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Erendira Wallenda wants to break her husband's record in Niagara Falls stunt

Erendira Wallenda is excited about June 15.

That's the day her 19-year-old son graduates from Marine Corps basic training at Parris Island, S.C. She intends to be there, as any proud mom would.

But in the morning, she has to squeeze in another activity: hanging from her teeth as she dangles beneath a helicopter flying 250 feet above Niagara Falls.

The date was set to mark the fifth anniversary of her husband Nik's walk over the Falls on a high wire.

Erendira Wallenda's stunt will occur in the morning – the time hasn't been finalized – so the Wallendas can fly to South Carolina in time for the Marine ceremony.

"I'm actually more excited about that than I am about doing the stunt," Erendira Wallenda said in a phone interview Wednesday.

She said the Niagara Falls event will last 15 to 20 minutes, and Nik will be on hand to watch, possibly from the helicopter.

"It's my turn to get him back for all the times I've had to chew my fingernails off," Erendira laughed.

The helicopter will take off from the Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel in downtown Niagara Falls, with the 36-year-old aerialist sitting on a special apparatus beneath the machine.

Once above the American Falls, she will climb down and perform several gymnastic tricks, such as hanging by her toes, using a lyra, a circular trapeze, also called an aerial hoop. For the finale, she will hang by her teeth.

That trick will last 10 to 15 seconds. "It would probably get boring after a while," Erendira explained.

She won't actually be biting on the hoop.

"That would be impossible. No one can hang from a bar by their teeth," Erendira said.

She will be hanging from a custom-made mouth guard molded to fit her teeth, which will be attached to a carabiner, a metal loop connected to the lyra.

"It's an old circus trick. I have really strong jaws," Erendira said. "Nik and I do a high-wire act. Nik rides out on a bicycle and I hang underneath and do the iron jaw. ... This will be the first time I'll be doing iron jaw underneath a helicopter."

She said she was looking for a way to make the trick "more 'stunty' and not so pretty."

"This is something that's been in my family for eight generations on my mom's side, seven generations on my father's side. This is my passion. I know it probably sounds ridiculous to the normal person, but this is what I do and this is what I love," Erendira said. "Hopefully people are inspired, mothers are inspired to think outside the box and never give up on their dreams."

The Wallenda family has been renowned for their stunts for generations, but Erendira has a similar lineage.

Her mother's family, the Ashtons, are Australians who founded and continue to operate a circus in that country. Her father's family, named Vazquez, started in Mexico City and continue to travel the world as circus performers.

"My mom started stretching me and my sisters, getting ready for performing, when I was 2 years old, and my first professional performance was when I was 5 years old," Erendira said.

As The Buffalo News reported Wednesday, Mrs. Wallenda has hung from a helicopter for stunts twice before, in 2015 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina and last year near Atlantic City, N.J., where she set a world record by somersaulting around the bar 50 times.

Wallenda's wife plans to hang by her teeth from helicopter over Niagara Falls

In Niagara Falls, she intends to break her husband's world record for the greatest height at which anyone has hung from a helicopter by his or her teeth.

Erendira said permission is needed from New York State Parks. "We are speaking to the people we need to speak to, and it looks like everything is a go," she said.

A State Parks spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment. Canadian authorities don't need to approve, since the stunt will occur entirely on the American side, Niagara County Legislator Randy R. Bradt told his colleagues as they approved $35,000 in funding for the event Tuesday. The Falls City Council will vote Friday on matching that.

"We want to put a spotlight back on Niagara Falls again," Bradt said. "There were $3.3 million in direct revenues last time."

"If we could accomplish even a portion of the positive publicity that we got from that original walk, our $35,000 investment will be very much worthwhile," Mayor Paul A. Dyster said.

Bradt said the Seneca Nation will be contributing $50,000, although a Seneca spokesman would not confirm that.

Some of the publicity could come through the possible telecast of the stunt on a morning TV show, although Erendira said she couldn't discuss that yet.

"Niagara Falls is so dear to both of us. It kind of put his name on the map," Erendira Wallenda said, referring to Nik's 2012 stunt.

He has talked of founding a permanent show facility in Niagara Falls, but his wife said, "Until something happens, it's just talk."

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