The climber and the aerialist dined together tonight at the top of the soaring building that enticed them both to feats of daring and folk hero status.
George Willig, the climber from Queens, and Phillipe Petit, the tight rope walker from Paris, sat dawn to dinner at the windows on the World, the lavish restaurant on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower. They used the elevator.
Unlike most of us the two daring young men decided that New York's tallest building was good for something more than offices and restaurants.
Tonight's dinner, which will also be attended by Willig's parents, his lawyer and his girlfriend, was on the house, a spokesman for the restaurant said. The dinner was arranged for by the local ABC television affiliate after the two men had appeared together earlier in the day on one of the station's talk shows.
For Willig, the TV appearance was merely one event in a day filled with media hoopla.
Through it all, the TV interviews, the City Hall press conference, the dropping of a $250,000 lawsuit against him in return for payment of a $1.10 fine - a penny for each story climbed - Willig, 28, remained calm.
"I have no angle," he told a reporter while dashing from one network studio to another. "I just wanted to do the climb. No angle whatsoever."
Meanwhile, his lawyer, Richard Reiben, was saying that he had hopes of patenting the device Willig used to scale the 1,350-foot Trade Center.
Willig, however, said he didn't think there was much point to Reiben's idea since he had designed his climbing equipment specifically to fit the groove in the World Trade Center and no place else.
Willig, a toy designer from Queens, started becoming the rosiest apple in the media's eye on NBC's "Today" show. Then it was over to ABC, for an interview on "Good Morning America." Next came an interview on a local TV talk show. The agenda then took him to City Hall for a press conference where Mayor Abraham D. Beame lauded his "courageous act." Then he was on still another local TV talk show and after that reportedly met with representatives of People magazine.
"I didn't expect to do it without anyone noticing but I certainly didn't expect this kind of publicity," Willig said.
Petit, it was clear, felt a sense of kinship with Willig that bordered on the mystical. Petit lives near the trade center, and, he explained, when he woke up yesterday morning he felt "something electric" in the atmosphere.
"I looked at the tower and I saw all the people. I rushed to the tower," Petit said, adding that he went up to the 65th floor of the North Tower to get a better view of Willig's climb.
The climb, he said, "was a pure magic thing. I just love what you did," he told his new friend.
Petit said that when a scaffold was lowered to Willig with policemen on it he was afraid they were going to stop the one-man World Trade Center expedition. So, he said, "I cried."
Willig went to City Hall wearing a striped T-shirt, jeans and beat-up moccasins.
Mayor Beame, who's running for re-election this year, seemed aware that the city's lawsuit against Willig was as popular as new taxes. Grinning, he said the city was accepting the proposal of Willig's lawyer that Willig pay $1.10, or a penny per story climbed. Willig paid right away.
Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said he "doubted" his office would press the disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment and criminal trespass charges lodged against Willig. He noted that it might not be a good idea to have a man of Willig's climbing talents associating with Prisoners.
Accompanying Willig on this first frenetic day of his new life was his girlfriend, Randy Ziedberg, a 24-year-old physical education teacher, who, like Willig, is a skilled mountain climber.
"For a fleeting moment," she told a reporter, she had been tempted to join Willig in the World Trade Center climb. She decided against it, she explained, because "he was the one who had the dream." CAPTION: Picture 1, Trade Center climber George Willig pays $1.10 fine - a penny per story climbed - to Mayor Abraham Beame. UPI