- Associated Press - Saturday, May 2, 2015

ATLANTA (AP) - High-wire walker Nik Wallenda plans to appear at a summer celebration marking his great-grandfather’s walk over Tallulah Gorge in the north Georgia mountains.

But the younger daredevil, who has expressed hope that he can one day repeat Karl Wallenda’s 1970 trek over the nearly 1,000-foot-deep gorge, will have his feet planted firmly on the ground.

Organizers had hoped Nik Wallenda could cross the gorge at the upcoming Tallulah Gorge Skywalk Celebration June 19-28.

Planners of the event had estimated up to 100,000 people would show up to see Wallenda cross the gorge, said Teka Earnhardt of the Rabun County Convention & Visitors Bureau. That was until Wallenda’s management told organizers that crossing the gorge - and all the planning and preparation that goes into such a fete - didn’t fit into his schedule this summer, Earnhardt said.

“On the low end, we were thinking 30,000 and on the high end it could have gone up to 100,000,” Earnhardt said.

“We certainly decreased that when we found out he was not walking,” she said.

Organizers now expect 10,000 to 15,000 visitors over 10 days. Wallenda still plans to show up for a meet-and-greet event with fans on June 19 and to sign copies of his book on June 20.

Wallenda first discussed the idea of crossing Tallulah Gorge in an interview with The Associated Press after he traversed a 100-foot-high tightrope inside the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in February 2014. Later, his agent, Winston Simone, said he hoped to accomplish the fete on or very near July 18, 2015. The date holds significance, as it marks the 45th anniversary of his great-grandfather’s successful walk over the gorge in 1970. Karl Wallenda later fell to his death while walking a wire between buildings in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The idea of crossing the same span that his great-grandfather did holds enormous appeal to him, Wallenda said last year. “To be able to walk literally in his footsteps is what my life’s about,” he said after the Georgia Dome walk.

The gorge walk would add to Nik Wallenda’s accomplishments that include his crossing of Niagara Falls and a gorge in the Grand Canyon area of Arizona. Last month, he walked atop a giant structure similar to a Ferris wheel in Orlando, Florida.

In Rabun County, plans for the June celebration include 19 events including concerts by Vince Gill and the Time Jumpers; and John Michael Montgomery.

Among other events: A “buck dance,” which dates back to the early days of Rabun County. “A buck dance is similar to square dance but it has its own flair and you dance to bluegrass music,” Earnhardt said.

A Native American encampment and a re-enactment of the shoot-out at the OK Corral are also planned, she said.

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