Walking into the circus immediately sends your senses into overdrive. The smell of popcorn fills your nostrils as you find your seat, you can feel the crunch of peanut shells beneath your feet, and you can hear yelling from the snack bar “cotton candy for two dollars! Come and get it”. Then the lights go out and a hush falls over the crowd.
A spotlight appears in the center of the curtain and out emerges the ring master. His voice echoes upon every wall “Welcome one and all to the Great All American Youth Circus! Prepare to be amazed because behind this curtain each performer is patiently waiting to put on the greatest show you have ever seen.”
The music starts to build and the butterflies in your stomach turn with excitement. “The swinging acrobats, the tumbling toddlers, the tight wire walkers, and gleam and glitter from the costumes are just the beginning. “So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the Show!”
When you walk into the Great All-American Youth Circus this is what you would hear. It sets the tone for an astounding show that you are about to experience. Hanging onto the edge of your seat and letting your senses enjoy every minute.
Founded in 1929 the YMCA Great All American Youth Circus is the home to over 400 performers who practice for eight months out of the year to put on a spectacular performance for the audience.
Now there are many moving parts that put this operation comes together. Brennan Mejia is one of the 100 circus trainers that has made a significant impact at the circus. He is the first to talk about the difference it has made in his life.
“I have been a part of this circus since I was 4 years old and now I am 26 years old, this place has been a home away from home. Now I get to be a part of something that is bigger than me and give back in so many ways that I could ever imagine.”
He said there is this sense of belonging, and it doesn’t matter where you came from. The circus family takes you in with no judgement.
Frankie Moyles who is an 8 year old performer at the Circus says that her favorite part about the circus is, “I get to make so many new friends and it is so much fun. I get to go every day to the YMCA and it is the best part of my day!”
The circus is an escape from her normal routine and going to school every day gets rather boring. When she goes to circus she does not want to leave.
Amy Moyles is the mother of Frankie and she expresses Frankie’s love for the circus, “Frankie is my daughter and her love for circus is a beautiful passion that I want to encourage. So as long as she wants to do it then I will do it with her.”
Amy Moyles has done this with her daughter for 5 years now because she knows that the circus is one big family that is accepting of all, Frankie needs to know that this compassion can be used later in her life that can have a lasting impact on others.
There is a lot of hard work and dedication that goes into making the show a reality. Eight months out of the year, practice is required because they want to put on an amazing show for the audiences in May.
“Frankie is the reason I wanted to be a part of this adventure with her and it has brought our relationship closer to one another. But another reason I stay involved is because I get the chance to be a part of something that is bigger than the both of us.
There are other parents just like Amy who did this with their children to keep their relationship while the children. Watching them grow up and start to become young adults is a beautiful journey, the circus becomes another environment for this to grow.
She also said that, “When the shows come around in May everything seems to be chaotic and a massive mess of people. But when the kids and everyone gets on stage it falls into place, becoming an inspiring performance of teamwork.”
This massive mess of people want to put on a show that they are proud of, so when the curtain comes up, working together becomes a reality. Everyone is welcome and no one will be turned down if they want to be a part of the YMCA Great All-American Youth Circus.
Brennan Mejia says that, “The YMCA Circus is defining the community and it is something they will stand by and be proud of.”
As the curtain closes you are left inspired and wanting to see more of these talented acrobats, defying gravity is just a part of the job. The effortlessness makes the performers graceful and beautiful. This circus represents the community in a positive light and each member of the circus family believes in that.