Hundreds of supporters cheered in the rain Monday as magician David Blaine was helped out of his Plexiglas coffin after spending seven days buried underground with nothing but a few swallows of water to sustain him.
A week before, the 25-year-old Blaine went underground, vowing to stay in his six-foot grave for exactly a week, reports News2 Correspondent Kendra Farn of CBS station WCBS-TV in New York.
The heavily promoted publicity stunt drew thousands of people to Manhattan's Upper West Side. During the week, visitors peered and waved at Blaine, who was visible through the clear coffin on which a two-ton tank of water had been lowered.
Although he appeared slightly wobbly Monday, Blaine was still able to say a few words about his experience.
"I suffered a little this past week, but I saw something truly incredible," he said. "What I saw was every race of people, every age group and every religion all gathered together smiling..and that made all of this worth it..every second of it."
Shirtless and wearing sunglasses, he was helped into an ambulance and rushed away for a medical checkup. Blaine, who was using the feat to help promote an upcoming television special, ate no food and drank just a few tablespoons of water each day.
In case of an emergency, Blaine had a buzzer, and security and medical staff were always present to monitor his health. A crane operator also stood by to free Blaine from under the water tank.
The coffin was equipped with an air supply, blanket and pillow, and Blaine had a so-called trucker's tube if nature called. The coffin had given him only about 6 inches of head room and 2 inches on each side. Blaine said before he went in the box that he planned to go into a meditative trance.
During his week underground, a few steady regulars to the feat came by to wish Blaine luck.
Mayra Berlanga, a 25-year-old paralegal from Queens, showed up every morning, arriving by 7 a.m. to give the magician a familiar face to wake up to.
"I feel there is a connection," she said.
But how did her husband feel about her getting up early to look at another man? "I give him support also," said her husband, Carlos, who was at the site Sunday with his wife.
The couple was part of a long line of visitors snaking their way past Blaine's buried coffin Sunday afternoon despite chilly, rainy weather. Some carried signs saying "We love you David." Others brought their children, pets and cameras.
Rosa Corporan, a 20-year-old cashier, went back in line to get a second look and a picture. "He's a handsome guy," she explained.
Blaine has insisted the subterranean sojourn was not a publicity stunt for his upcoming television special, but a test of will. His hero, Harry Houdini, planned a similar feat but died in 1926 before he could perform it. His publicists said Blaine's feat has never been accomplished before.
Earlier this year, a man in England reportedly cmpleted several months buried in a coffin-like box in the garden of a pub. But that tomb was equipped with a telephone and a television, and he received food and drink down a ventilation shaft.