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Escape artist performs stunt while dangling over Elora Gorge (10 photos)

This stunt is part of an online magic show airing on Halloween night

ELORA – A man escaped a straitjacket as part of an upcoming online magic show.

While impressive on its own, it was done while dangling upside down over the Elora Gorge Thursday afternoon. 

It’s not an usual task for Scott Hammell, a Hamilton-based magician and escape artist.

Hammell is a Guinness World Record holder for highest suspension straitjacket escape in a 2003 stunt 7,200 feet above ground from a hot air balloon.

Despite the Elora Gorge escape being significantly less high at 80 feet, Hammell said it comes with a different kind of fear.

“I wouldn’t say I’m afraid of heights but 7,200 feet up the ground isn’t really real at that point,” Hammell said.

“When you’re 80 feet above the ground and it’s rocky, you see it and it’s like ‘Oh that’s exactly where I’d land if something goes wrong.’”

Hammell said it had been a few years since he performed a stunt like this and COVID has had a significant impact as he is a full-time performer.

“This is the first big thing I’ve done all year,” he said. “It gave me something to be really excited about, working with great people.”

Hammell said he was a bit nervous about the rain, more so for the cameras than himself.

“If you’re going to go to the length of hanging upside down over Elora Gorge, you want to make sure you film it right,” Hammell said.

The rain ended up delaying but the stunt went off with many people filming including a drone pilot.

Ryan Joyce, magician and videographer, produced and directed the stunt. Joyce explained that this was being filmed as part of the second annual Ontario Week of Wonder Magic Festival. 

Last year saw performances by magicians throughout Fergus during the last week of October to coincide with Monster Month. 

This year will feature an online magic show airing Halloween night with this stunt as part of the livestream.

Joyce said watching and filming someone else was more stressful than his own performances.

“My heart was racing more during this than if I was going on stage,” Joyce said. “I wasn’t even really focusing on the camera at one point I was so riveted.”

Joyce said that there is some historical reference for magic in Centre Wellington as the Canadian Association of Magicians was founded in Elora.

He said the festival and stunts like this are part of his push to make it a known area in the world for magic.

This escape and other performances will air online here on Oct. 31 at 9:30 p.m.


Keegan Kozolanka

About the Author: Keegan Kozolanka

Keegan Kozolanka covers civic matters under the Local Journalism initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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