Lewis Griswold

No clowning around: Circus school for kids seeks sponsors

Maria McElroy of Dinuba has an idea that any child should love: Bring a circus school to town and sign up as many kids as possible.

She asked her Lions Club to get behind it and the members said yes.

“Part of our mission is to work with kids,” McElroy said.

If it works out, circus school will be held in Dinuba July 31-Aug. 4 at the Dinuba Memorial Hall. Students must be ages 7 to 17 by Aug. 5.

The main issue is obtaining funds to launch the program.

“We need to come up with $50,000,” McElroy said. The club has raised some funds, but it will take more work to reach the magic number.

McElroy got the idea for a circus school at her 20-year college reunion. A circus school was hired to divert the attention of children who got dragged to the reunion. It was a hit.

To McElroy, a court appointed special advocates volunteer, the notion seemed ripe for export to the area. “I saw the need for something different to focus kids,” she said.

The circus school will be conducted by Trapeze Arts of San Francisco. Instructors will teach trapeze, balancing, clowning skills and juggling. There will also be instruction in circus physics (how a pendulum operates, for instance) and the history of circus.

The first class would probably have 100 students, but future classes would have more. The cost is $350 per student, but scholarships based on need will be offered.

Organizers expect that participants will come from Dinuba, Reedley, Orosi and the surrounding area, but any child who can get there is welcome to apply.

The website www.circusschool.org has an application form, an extensive FAQ, and a link to a $100-a-ticket fundraiser raffle with big prizes. There’s also a Facebook page under Dinuba Ringmaster.

Victims’ Memorial Quilt

The annual memorial quilt display for families who have lost loved ones to violent crime will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at the Visalia Convention Center.

Sponsored by the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, the display observes National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

This year, the 17th quilt made under the program will be shown. It will be unveiled for an invited audience the day before the public showing. The other 16 quilts will also be on display.

A new quilt is made each year. This year, there are 16 squares. There’s normally one square per victim, but this year one of the squares honors two victims.

The way it works is that the family of a victim submits a design of a quilt square to the district attorney’s office, which has the square made.

Graphic artist Gilmer Maluyao formats the squares (he’ll also assist with the design if requested), and seamstress Kathy Miller stitches them.

The exhibit always draws a lot of people.

“When this event started several years ago, we never anticipated that this humble observance would mean so much to the families and friends of those lost to crime in our county,” District Attorney Tim Ward said. “This event has become a place of healing and fellowship for those who share a common bond.”

Lewis Griswold covers the news of the South Valley for The Bee: 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold