PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. – The cryptic email asked, “Do you feel under-circused?”
The “Emergency Circus” reached out to the American Red Cross, asking if there were any shelters with children that would enjoy a one-hour circus act by performers from its Gulf Coast region.
Hundreds of children and their families are living in shelters across the Florida panhandle after Hurricane Michael made landfall Oct. 10. Red Cross planners thought this was just what children of all ages might need for smile and a laugh in times of stress and uncertainty.
Clay Mazing and Special Head, two performers from the Emergency Circus, made a special stop at the Breakfast Point Academy shelter in Panama City Beach, Fla., for what they hope will be the first of many visits. Clay and Special performed magic tricks that brought math and science out of the classroom and into the lives of children displaced by the disaster.
“The Emergency Circus is a non-profit founded in 2012, and our performers have been all over the world making children smile in refugee camps and shelters,” said Mazing, declining to give what might or might not be his real name.
“Last year we were in Red Cross shelters in Houston with Hurricane Harvey and in Puerto Rico with Hurricane Maria. We had been in Tampa for a show this week and figured we’d ask to perform at a shelter in Panama City as we passed through, heading back to New Orleans.”
About two-dozen children and their families attended the show at Breakfast Point, enjoying in lasso tricks and juggling.
“This is wonderful for the children, it’s a good distraction from the day-to-day here,” said Emile Trudeau, a Panama City resident displaced by Hurricane Michael. “We try to keep the kids busy all day, but this is what everyone here needed tonight: a chance to laugh and not think so much about tomorrow.”
Red Cross shelters, food, water, medical and emotional support, and recovery supplies and guidance are free, made possible by the generosity of the American people.