It's a funny thing. While the Niagara Gazette has published any number of columns, all by Don Glynn, opposing Nik Wallenda's upcoming high-wire walk across the face of the Horseshoe Falls here, more than 500 articles and essays from newspapers and other media outlets around the world have expressed the fascination and awe with which the event is being treated by responsible journalists with no personal axe to grind.
In Great Britain, a June 27 article by New York Correspondent Will Pavia in The London Times was typical. Taking up the entire top half of the front page of the paper's "World" section, the article includes photos of Annie Edson Taylor, Charles Blondin and Maria Spelterini -- the first woman to cross the gorge on a tightrope -- alongside that of Wallenda.
And Pavia was able to grasp a simple fact that has apparently eluded Glynn, area hack Paul Gromosiak and even Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.
"The western region of upstate New York has suffered decades of industrial decline and despite its location at a site of natural splendour, the town of Niagara Falls is full of boarded-up buildings and 1970s experiments in steel and glass, largely cut off from the raging river gorge by a state highway. The sight of a man stepping out on to a two-inch cable 200 feet above the foaming plunge pool was just what was needed," Pavia wrote.
In contrast, Glynn's articles in the Gazette have taken on a decidedly negative tone. Titled "High-wire walker unlikely to get green light," "Wallenda wire act facing uphill battle" and "Carnival air back at falls," Glynn quotes unnamed "preservationists," paraphrases Dyster and speculates that park designer Frederick Law Olmsted is "spinning in his you know where" while denigrating Wallenda and government officials on both sides of the Niagara River eager to see the event happen.
Legislation permitting the walk was recently passed by the New York State Senate and the state Assembly, and is expected to be signed as early as this week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Also coming on board to endorse the event is Niagara Falls, Ont., Mayor James Diodati.
"Bringing an act of such exceptional quality and stellar reputation as the Wallendas to Niagara Falls would be a great highlight for our city," wrote Mayor Diodati. "We already host many world-famous attractions and we invite top-quality entertainers to perform here. More than 12 million visitors travel here each year to partake in attractions, view the scenery and to be entertained with their families. Giving our visitors the opportunity to see the Wallendas in high-wire action would be outstanding."
With one of the most common questions on this side of the river being, "Why is Niagara Falls, Ont., so much more happening than Niagara Falls, N.Y.?" one not need look much further than the contrast between a forward-thinking visionary like Diodati compared to a stick in the mud like Dyster.
Sen. George Maziarz, an advocate for the event on the American side, said, "More and more officials are coming to realize and appreciate the value of this exciting tourism opportunity. This is not a stunt. This will be a professional, world-class performance that everybody will be watching. We look forward to working with Mayor Diodati, and all our counterparts on both sides of the border, to make it happen."
Democratic state Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak agreed.
"Daredevils and their exploits are a big part of the storied history of Niagara Falls," Gabryszak said. "It has been many years since anyone has been able to follow in the footsteps of the Great Blondin. In the meantime, tourism in Niagara Falls has declined on the American side, as the falls was separated from its daredevil history."
Why is it that The London Times and 500 other media outlets around the world can see the obvious economic benefits the Wallenda event would bring here, and the Niagara Gazette cannot?
Why is it that Mayor Diodati can see the tremendous promotional value in staging an event that will be talked about with wonder for years to come, while Mayor Dyster does not?
For Dyster and the Gazette, an Underground Railroad museum, dedicated to a history that never happened, is a sure-fire tourist bonanza. But it will take 100 years -- assuming the museum even opens, although considerable tax dollars have been spent on it -- for the number of people to visit it as will see the Wallenda event, which is being completely financed with private money.
It's well-known that Jimmy Glynn -- who recently had his contract to run the Maid of the Mist tour boats beneath the falls put out for rebid by the Ontario government and owns souvenir shops and snack bars in the parks on both sides of the river, has always opposed the placement of tourist attractions other than the ones he controls in the parks -- is Don Glynn's brother and a strong financial backer of Dyster.
Is the opposition to the Wallenda event on the part of the newspaperman and the mayor rooted in their close relationships with the cash cow?
Call me a cynic, but ...
|Niagara Falls Reporter||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||July 5, 2011|