Nik Wallenda may work in Sarasota, but his home is in Bradenton

vmannix@bradenton.comJune 28, 2013 

Nobody was home at the Nik Wallenda family abode this week, but that was no surprise.

Given all the worldwide attention for the renowned aerialist's tense 22-minute skywalk last Sunday across part of the Grand Canyon, they must need a little time to themselves after that whirlwind.

But what's a surprise is where the Wallendas live.

Sarasota? Nope.

Try Bradenton.

For almost seven years, in fact.

They live in Lionshead, a subdivision south of State Road 70 and just east of U.S. 301 in a home they've owned since Aug. 28, 2006, according to the Manatee County Property Appraiser's office.

It's a middle-class neighborhood and the Wallendas' street mirrors many around town -- nicely kept lawns, a basketball hoop in one driveway, pickups and SUVs here and there, an Old Glory hanging by a doorway, too.

But there were no signs of any welcome home block party for the Grand Canyon conquering hero.

Not yet, anyway.

"We're very protective of their privacy," said one neighbor, walking her dog.

Be that as it may, Bradentonians doing business at the nearby Braden River Post Office were impressed the famous Nik Wallenda is one of them.

"He lives here? That's cool, really cool," Steve Robertson said.

"I always thought he was a Sarasota guy," Joan Bromiley said.

So did Julie Laumann.

"Bradenton?" she said. "It's not what I expected."

Amber Amick understood

what she meant.

The 25-year-old Bradenton native knew Wallenda lived here, but said, "He gets more hype doing stuff in Sarasota."

James and Charlotte Thompson were not all that surprised, either.

"Circus people? They live everywhere," the 67-year-old husband said. "I've been following the Wallendas since I was a kid back in Ohio."

Unfortunately, they weren't among the 13 million Americans tuned in Sunday when Nik Wallenda made his spellbinding high-wire walk over the Little Colorado River Gorge in northeastern Arizona.

One, they don't get the Discovery Channel, which televised the event.

Two, he had to get up at 2 a.m. to go to work. He drives tanker trucks.

"I wanted to see it bad," Thompson said.

Bromiley skipped it.

"I just didn't want to see the guy get killed," she said. "I was a nervous wreck."

So was Robertson, who did watch.

"Scared me to death," he said. "Oh, my gosh. I've been to the Grand Canyon before. I know how deep that hole is. God bless him for what he does, but I couldn't do it. He's in the circus, so he's an entertainer. I don't know if watching him is necessarily entertainment."

Laumann's husband and son also watched it, but she didn't join them.

Too much anxiety for the former State College of Florida political science instructor bound for Florida International University.

That didn't stop her from thinking outside the box for a future Nik Wallenda skywalk.

"He may work in Sarasota, but he lives here, so it may not be fair we're not getting due credit," Laumann said. "That high-wire act he does in downtown Sarasota would be nice if he did it in Bradenton. Maybe Blake. Maybe the Judicial Center and the County Building. They're not as flashy, but they're big buildings."

Big enough for Bradenton.

A breeze for Nik Wallenda.

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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