TAMPA, Fla. - The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa showed off its newly completed expansion Thursday in a true rock star fashion.
A number of celebrities walked the red carpet, but the highlight was Nik Wallenda and his mother walking a tight-rope between the hotel’s tower, 16 stories in the air.
That wire was only as thick as a nickel, but Wallenda and his mother, 66-year-old Delilah, easily completed the walk together. The walk with the mother and son was extra special since it was Delilah's final walk of her career before retiring.
With intense music blaring from below, Nik began his walk on the wire from one building, while Delilah started from the other side. As the two neared the middle, Delilah sat down on the wire and Nik stepped over her. Once Delilah got to the other side, she then retraced her steps and followed her son back over the wire. Just minutes after beginning the death-defying highwire stunt, the mother and son finished their walk and waved to the cheering crowd below.
“It was magical that’s the best word I can give for it just an amazing feeling,” said Wallenda.
Delilah Wallenda says this may be her final death-defying walk.
“Bittersweet, because I love what I do, because if it is my last walk, it’s very sad. I’m going to push forward. Hopefully, I’m going to do one when I’m 70,” she said.
The mother-son duo hit the wire just after noon Thursday as part of the Hard Rock’s grand celebration to mark the completion of its $700 million expansion. During their high-wire act, the duo had some of the best views of the casino’s new pool area, the new tower, gaming space, and spa -- all part of the Hard Rock’s new digs.
“The design criteria from the start was that we could pick this building up and put it in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip and it would be as nice as anything out there,” said Jim Allen, Chairman of the Hard Rock International.
For the Wallendas, it was another piece of their family's storied history.
“We love what we do,” Nik Wallenda said. “This is our passion. We carry on a legacy from back in the 1780s, but to say there’s not nerves or stress would not be truthful. We’re realists. We train very hard. My mom is walking 1,200 feet to prepare for 160 feet, but that’s the excitement that comes with what we do.”