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High Wire Daredevil Nik Wallenda to Train for Walk Across Grand Canyon at Nathan Benderson Park in Florida's Sarasota County

SARASOTA, Fla., June 4, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Known as the "King of the High Wire," Nik Wallenda will train for his untethered high wire walk across the Grand Canyon at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota County, located along Florida's Gulf Coast, from June 6-19, 2013. Wallenda's walk at the Grand Canyon will take place June 23 at 8:00 p.m. EDT, and will air LIVE exclusively on the Discovery Channel's worldwide network in 217 countries. His training celebrates the area's rich circus legacy – a spirit that is still alive and thriving today.

Wallenda will train on a cable approximately 25 feet in the air, stretching 1,200 feet across the western edge of Regatta Island at Nathan Benderson Park. The training will essentially recreate the distance of his walk across the Grand Canyon with a free, optimal view for local spectators. Training will take place twice daily from Tuesdays - Saturdays, from 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and again at 6:00 p.m., as well as on Sundays at 3:00 p.m. There will be no training on Mondays June 10 or 17.

Nik Wallenda was the first person to walk across the Niagara Falls on a 1,500 high wire last June. A seventh generation circus performer, he began walking the high wire at the age of two.

The Wallenda family is a storied part of Sarasota County's circus heritage, which dates back to the early 1900's when the Ringling brothers came to the area. John Ringling, circus impresario of The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, built a winter home along Sarasota Bay and subsequently moved the circus winter quarters to Sarasota County in 1927. Today, The Ringling Museum pays homage to the American circus with its Circus Museum. Many circuses still call Sarasota County home, such as Circus Sarasota, a non-profit operated by two former circus legends, as well as a youth Sailor Circus. The Ring of Fame on St. Armands circle pays tribute to circus greats, while the Tito Gaona Flying Trapeze Park at the Venice Circus Arena teaches trapeze from the master artist of the Ringling circus. Other landmarks include the site of the Ringling & Barnum winter quarters, the historic Sarasota Opera house, where Cecile B. DeMille's 1952 Hollywood blockbuster The Greatest Show on Earth made its world premiere, an original circus train that includes Ringling's private railroad car, as well as Big Cat Habitat rescue.

The site of Wallenda's training, Nathan Benderson Park will be one of the top three Rowing and Aquatic Nature facilities in the world when completed. The site is one of two finalists to host the 2017 World Rowing Championships, and is slated to become North America's premier 2,000 meter regatta course and rowing center.

The public is invited to watch Wallenda's training free of charge, including free parking, at Nathan Benderson Park, located off of University Park and I-75. For directions visit www.worldclassrowing.com.

Nik Wallenda will be available to speak with media at press conferences, Tuesdays - Saturdays at 11:30 a.m.

His training is sponsored in part by Visit Sarasota County and Nathan Benderson Park.

For more information on Sarasota County's circus history visit www.visitsarasota.org. For more information on Nathan Benderson Park, visit www.worldclassrowing.com. For more information on Nik Wallenda's training in Sarasota County, please contact Lynn Hobeck Bates at 941.955.0991 Ext. 103 or lhobeck@visitsarasota.org.

About Sarasota County

Located on Southwest Florida's Gulf Coast, Sarasota County offers a vibrant arts and cultural scene, a diverse array of culinary experiences and a variety of opportunities to take advantage of the clear waters and the great outdoors. Sarasota County provides the quintessential, laid-back beach getaway with numerous sprawling, white-sand beaches, including Siesta Key Beach, named "America's Best Beach" in 2011 by Stephen Leatherman, aka, Dr. Beach. Dubbed "Home of the American Circus," Sarasota County served as the headquarters for the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus for 75 years, and visitors can experience its unique circus heritage first-hand by following the circus trail or catching a performance by one of two local circus companies. For more information on visiting Sarasota County, visit www.visitsarasota.org or call (800) 522-9799.

CONTACT: Lynn Hobeck Bates lhobeck@visitsarasota.org; 941-955-0991 Ext. 103Source: Visit Sarasota County