January is an important month to me. It is more than just the first month of the New Year, but it is the month when I travel south to play my tuba at the circus in Florida. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy getting together with my circus music buddies at the Windjammer's Unlimited Annual Meet in Sarasota. My associates and I come together from around North America to share our love of times past, when a great many circuses moved across the face of America.
For those of you over the age of 55, your memories of circuses past are far different than those of people growing to adulthood today. The last time I saw the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus it looked more like a Broadway show with trained elephants. There were lasers and electronic music. It just did not tickle my old-time fancy.
In the Freehold of my youth, attendance at a circus was a treat that only came around infrequently. I can still recall the sights and sounds of the circuses which usually were set up in the parking lot across Highway 33 from the Freehold Raceway in Freehold, NJ. The smell of popcorn, the taste of a hot dog and the rising swell of a circus band takes me back to a more innocent time in the world, and in my life. So it was once again in Sarasota this year.
As I sit crafting these words for you I am comfortably ensconced in an extremely roomy compartment located in car number 5240 of the Amtrak's Auto Train. I am sipping a nice warm cup of coffee and enjoying a restful moment of reflection upon just how the last week in Florida played out. Let me not mince words. I had a ball my friends.
Although my vacation time is now at an end and I am on my way back to the workaday world in New Jersey, I go forth with a smile on my face and a warm glow within my soul. For you see, this week was another great success. And yes, I learned something, another series of lessons if you will. I learned that the words of my commentary on the circus which I wrote last February had a far greater impact than I could ever have imagined.
Last year I gave you the following tips for organizational success which I sawed exemplified by the Sarasota Police Athletic League's (PAL) Sailor Circus:
- Be enthusiastic
- Be accepting of others
- Always be present for others
- Always be useful to others
- Know the capabilities of your people
- Operate within those identified competencies
When I spoke with the circus director this year, I was surprised to discover that the leaders at the Sailor Circus had downloaded and printed my article last year. They had it prominently displayed on the walls of their dressing areas and used it as a motivational tool for their performers. I was moved to tears by this. I guess none of us ever does fully appreciate the impact of our efforts on this earth. I shall work hard to merit their trust.
My friends, I want you to know that the passage of time has not diminished the importance of these values to the leaders and performers at the circus. I saw them reinforced once again this year at the circus in Sarasota. However, there were some things which I saw this year that I might have missed last year.
This year I want to stress the importance of teamwork and safety in the creation of a spirit of organizational success. I am sure that safety was a great part of the show last year, but perhaps it jumped out a bit more at me this year.
Let me share a bit of the history of this youth circus program. At one time the Sailor Circus was part of the vocational education programs offered at Sarasota High School. As such it trained students for possible future employment as circus performers. At some point a couple of years ago, the school system decided to shut down the program. It was at this point that the Police Athletic League saw an opportunity and took it. They saw this as another fine opportunity to improve their outreach in the Sarasota area.