Lessons I Learned at the Circus

Are you aware that you can think and relax at the same time? Just because you are enjoying a particular activity you are not precluded from exercising your brain cells. Heck, some of my best ideas have come in the midst of some really enjoyable...


Are you aware that you can think and relax at the same time? Just because you are enjoying a particular activity you are not precluded from exercising your brain cells. Heck, some of my best ideas have come in the midst of some really enjoyable endeavors on my part. This week's visit with you is another example of this phenomenon.

Being sort of semi-retired does have certain benefits my friends. I recently returned from a ten-day soiree to Florida. Part of the trip was work, however, the majority of my trip down south involved running away to join the circus. That is all part of being semi-retired. You get to go to neat places and combine the best parts of work and pleasure.

As I stated, you really never know when life's lessons will cause that light to come on in your brain. There are those times we get our ideas at work. That is what many of us are paid to do, so it should not seem amazing. However, they sometimes come to us when we are at play. That can be surprising, and rewarding, all at the same time. And occasionally these gems of wisdom come to us through the voices of our friends. So it was on my recent trip to Florida.

The work part involved an area of the emergency service world which is near and dear to my heart. My buddy Steve Austin and I were in Orlando, Florida assisting our friends at the National Fallen Firefighter's Foundation (NFFF). They were in town to hold their mini-summit on the topic of vehicle safety. We were asked to co-facilitate the session that covered issues dealing with highway safety.

Some really neat people came together to share their views on issues revolving around how to keep people safe when they are operating on the roadways of North America. We looked at such topics as:

  • Incident management of highway operations
  • Traffic control issues
  • Fire police issues
  • Public education

A great deal of good information was shared with the group. A report on our findings will be issued by the later this year. I will say though that a lot needs to be done in the area of public education. I will be speaking more on that topic in a later visit with you. However, there were a wide range of ideas generated during our brainstorming session. Our stated mission was to gather thoughts and ideas. That we did. Mission accomplished.

With the work in Orlando completed, I packed up and moved on to the next stage of my winter journey. I headed down to Sarasota for one of the most enjoyable highlights of my year. I got together with about 250 other circus music aficionados at the Windjammers Unlimited Circus Music Preservation Association.

For the better part of five days I returned to the days of yesteryear and played my tuba in the midst of a fine bunch of fellow circus music devotees. We have devoted ourselves to preserving a style of music which has all but disappeared from the modern circus genre.

In fact I believe that only one piece of the music we played was written after 1930. Hour after hour was spent rehearsing and recording the marches, two-steps, waltzes, gallops, and novelty numbers that were the stock in trade of circus in the good, old days.

It is also in that historic seashore city in Florida that some of the greatest memories in circus history were created. For you see Sarasota hosted the winter quarters of the Ringling Brothers, Barnum, and Bailey Circus: The Greatest Show on Earth. Today it is the home of the John and Mabel Ringling Museum, which now operates under the auspices of the Florida State University.

Sarasota is also the home a really special local attraction known as the Sailor Circus. What was once a vocational training program under the auspices of the Sarasota High School is now an active, youth oriented community undertaking supported by the Sarasota Police Athletic League (PAL).

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