Juanita Salicrup

 
 
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Airs Above The Ground - August 7, 1974 was one of those foggy New York mornings, heavy with mist that spread slick dampness over every surface. Not rain. But certainly not clear. And worth your life or your limb if you took just the wrong step at the wrong time.

It made you wonder, as you squinted up at the tiny figure dancing across the thread of wire strung between the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center -- how a man could even contemplate the stunt, much less execute it.

As a Public Affairs staffer subbing at the Information Desk that summer, I fielded telephone inquiries from press and other media all across the country. As word spread about the wild stunt taking place 1,350 feet above plaza and street, people asked the same questions we had: San Francisco morning radio hosts wanted to know -- who was this daredevil (Philippe Petit, we would later learn), Wichita news, New Orleans radio, Richmond media staff -- everyone asked: Did he have help? (most assuredly -- just not from us), Had the PA arranged for it or participated in it? (heavens, no! No one rational and in charge would have sought such outrageous publicity)? How did he get up there (Well, with construction on the South Tower wrapping up, there were still hoards of hard-hatted steel workers everywhere (who would distinguish one more?)? Would he be arrested? Yes, when he returned to the safety of solid ground (No one was capable of or willing to venture out there after him).

Later, when he was in custody, having fulfilled his dream, he spoke openly about this stunt being a years-long goal of his. He told us much, well satisfied with the achievement that put himself and, briefly, the P.A. into the front pages of the news. But it was an "unusual" day in the agency's history for certain.

To judge the colossal nature of Philippe Petit's escapade, go to You Tube to search out the 2015 movie, "The Walk." It will likely awe and astonish you. It did me, and I was there that day.
 

 


 


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