Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Circus

Last night, at almost the last minute, my sister calls me and asks if I and two of my wonderful children would like to go see the Great Y Circus. It was hard to choose two children, mostly because my husband was busy setting up the Wii he had happened to find at Walmart a few days before, and they all wanted a turn. I finally convinced the two younger ones to go with me, and we set out.

For those of you that haven't heard of this "Great All American Youth Circus", let me give you a brief history. In, 1929, YMCA director Roy Coble, once a performer for Ringling Brothers, started this program. Kids as young as 3 up to 18 are trained by circus performers in arts such as juggling, tightrope walking, trapeze, bungee, acrobatics, teeter board, unicycling, and contortionism in a program that starts in September and culminates in their performances that begin in mid to late May. The trainers are mostly volunteers, as are the setup crew. This has been a tradition at the Redlands YMCA, and this year marked their 68th season.

I wasn't expecting much, being that, hey, we're talking about kids. But what I saw was just astounding. I saw kids as young as 10 swinging by their knees on ladder style trapeze. I saw a young man no older than 17 twist himself into forms I had no idea were possible. Three teenage girls dressed in very tasteful but classy leotards draped themselves precariously over the frame of what looked like three hula hoops stuck together in an almost pyramid shape, which was hanging near the top of the gymnasium ceiling. A large group of kids cycled out onto the floor on their unicycles, then performed a reel sort of maneuver, passing from one hand to another as they rode their unicycle toward the end of the line. Another group of cyclists came out on taller cycles, followed by a young man who climbed to the cage in the rafters in order that he could mount his cycle, which was almost as tall as the highest trapeze. The older kids on the mid height cycles joined hands and rode at the other group, then joined together to form an x, and rode in a circle. Then there were teenage girls and boys who performed with the German wheel, and the same group, more or less, also did some incredible acrobatics on what looked like pairs of curtains. A couple girls did a routine that had them swing to get enough momentum to let go and do flips on bungee cords. Of course, there were the adorable 3-5 year olds, who did tumbles and were assisted in flips, all ending in a "taa-daa" pose for the crowd.

I am so glad I got to go see this! Both of the girls I took with me want to run away with the circus now. I caught one of them putting a branch between the swings and trying to walk across it today. Since she had no balancing pole, I made sure the branch went missing! Kudos to the parents, volunteers, and the performers for their amazing achievement. now, I have to rustle up the money so the rest of the family can go....

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