She broke every bone in her face when she fell in 2017 - now Lijana Wallenda conquered her fears and crossed Times Square on a tightrope

Cape Town - American acrobats Nik Wallenda, 40, and his sister, Lijana Wallenda, 42, successfully crossed a 396m long tightrope suspended 25 stories above New York City’s Times Square on Sunday.

The siblings started the act on either-end of the rope that spanned from 1 Times Square to 2 Times Square and walked toward each other. Nik walked downhill, which is easier, and Lijana walked uphill. Then right in the centre of the rope in front of the Viacom building Lijana sat down and Nik climbed over her and changed places. They both then continued to walk to the ends of the rope.

The event, titled Highwire Live in Times Square with Nik Wallenda, was televised live on ABC.


In 2017 Nik and Lijana were part of an eight-person pyramid attempting a similar daring act in in Sarasota, Florida when it all went horribly wrong.

The human pyramid collapsed resulting in five performers, including Lijana, being rushed to hospital. Lijana sustained life-threatening injuries and had to have three plates and 72 screws placed in her face.

Nik managed to grab onto the wire and didn't fall to the ground.

The Wallenda family, who've been acrobats for 200 years and seven generations, have not been strangers to tragedy and have lost several members over the years.


"We've learned a lot by loss of life. I've lost seven family members doing this," Nik said during an interview with AP.

In 1928 Nik's great-grandfather, Karl, established The Flying Wallendas as a travelling circus and daredevil act. The first tragedy that struck the troupe was a fire that broke out in a circus tent in Hartford, Connecticut in 1944 that killed 168 people. Thankfully none of the Wallendas were hurt.

According to CNN, two members of the troupe died, and one was paralysed whilst attempting a seven-person pyramid in 1962.

The following year, Karl's sister-in-law, Rietta also died after a fall during an Omaha performance.

In 1972 Karl lost his son-in-law, Richard Guzman, when he accidentally touched a live electric wire while holding part of a metal rigging.

Karl, 73, died in 1978 on a high-wire walk between two towers in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In 2011 Nik and his mother, Delilah, completed the same stunt successfully.

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