Sarasota, Florida – Turns out that Sarasota is the Circus Capital of the World. Who knew?
There is much history to this moniker (which I will post about shortly), but the main reason is that Sarasota was for many years the winter home of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Sadly, the Greatest Show on Earth no longer winters here. But there is a smaller hometown circus, Circus Sarasota, run by the Circus Arts Conservatory. Circus Sarasota was founded by the talented aerialist Dolly Jacobs and her husband (another circus performer). Jacobs also happens to be the daughter of the famed circus clown Lou Jacobs. The circus definitely runs in the blood, doesn’t it?
The grandparents took us to see the one-ring, Euro-style show, which was similar in size and scope to the Big Apple Circus. There were only a few animal acts–gorgeous dancing horses and a rather unusual pig act (I think they could have done without that last one.) Aside from the pigs, the acts were all very slick and modern, with performers dressed in leather and electronic music pumping behind them.
The acrobatics were incredible. The 2015 show Fearless featured some hometown heroes, including Dolly herself–58 years old and still going strong.
Also on the docket: the Flying Wallendas! These are the grandchildren of patriarch Karl Wallenda, who first developed the famous high-wire act back in the 1920s. He settled in Sarasota, and in 1947 he debuted his signature feat, a seven-person chair pyramid. We saw his grandchildren replicate this feat, which was pretty amazing.
The Wallendas are clearly wired for the high wire. (Sorry, it needed to be said.) Despite serious injuries and even deaths in the family resulting from falls, these crazy people continue to embrace the high wire as their calling. Why? What is the point of undertaking these ridiculous acts in increasingly outrageous locations–never with a safety wire? Isn’t life exciting and dangerous enough on the ground?
But somehow… I get it. I wouldn’t want to do it, but I get it.
Everybody has different appetites for adventure. Some people have asked me why I would want to travel to some of the places I have traveled–or why I would expose my children to such danger. What danger? I wonder.
That’s probably what the Wallendas are wondering too.
Karl Wallenda is quoted as saying “Life is being on the wire. Everything else is just waiting.” I get it. The real danger is living too safely and–consequently–missing your real life.
Life is being on the wire. Everything else is just waiting. Where is your wire? What are you waiting for?