Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages.

My pal Ben and I, together with Ben’s friend Claudette (visiting from Stephentown, New York) took ourselves this afternoon to Sarasota’s “PAL Sailor Circus”.  More about that in a minute.

Before the performance we had lunch at the wonderful “Panera Bread” (just across the road from the Big Top on Bahia Vista Street).  “Panera Bread” is a fabulous franchised cafe at which the soups, salads and sandwiches are superb.  The place was mobbed, but we eventually found a table for two, around which we made room for three.  This table was alongside a wall.

Once seated, I looked to my left.  At the very next table were two women from St. Boniface Church.  We chatted for a bit.  Then I looked back, and immediately behind me were two women from All Angels Church.  We also chatted.  Next, a husband and wife took the table immediately in front of ours. “Gosh and golly” – they were also from St. B’s.

I try not to be paranoid, but it felt odd that I was surrounded by six people from the two parishes at which I serve!  (Were they there to check up on me?!). 

Sarasota has a great Circus heritage.  It was for many years the winter home of the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus.  (My home is built where the circus used to winter).

In keeping with that heritage we have the “Sailor Circus”, which is a fabulous organisation for children.  

(I am told that it was at one time a part of the Sarasota High School whose sports teams have the nickname of “Sailor” – hence the title of the circus).

These days it is sponsored by the Police Athletic League -  hence the name “PAL Sailor Circus”.  It is a year round activity for children and youth, drawing school children from at least 38 local schools.

This afternoon’s performance was entirely terrific.  It involved at least ninety-eight school-children, ranging in age from (say) 8 to 18.   

The trapeze acts were delightful, as were the jugglers, the clowns, and the four feet high children on six feet stilts.  It was great to see the fourteen youngsters who were tumblers.  And the sight of forty children on unicycles brought smiles and cheers all round.

Most impressive were the four young women and one young man who “flew through the air with the greatest of ease - such magnificent youths on the flying trapeze”!

The highlight for me was to see and enjoy four children from St. Boniface Church as members of the Circus.  Congratulations Hannah, Jacob, Logan and Skailar!

The lowlight was that there were no Hispanic or Black children in the show.

Above all else, it was an immense joy to see these ninety-eight children give of their very best with incredible skill and athleticism. 
 It was heartening to note that this skill and athleticism was rooted in cooperation, rather than in competition

There’s a concept for us!

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