Even in pandemic, Aerial Antics kids ‘up’ to challenge

Macee Holshouser [Photo: Kaila Jones]

The Virtual Aerial Antics Youth Circus is coming to a computer near you in place of the 46th annual Aerial Antics Youth Circus, initially scheduled to be performed at Saint Edward’s School. In light of the coronavirus, the show was performed and filmed at the Centerstage Acrobatic Complex at Leisure Square for fans of the performance to enjoy at home.

“It was touch and go for a while,” said Patty Howard, assistant recreation director. “We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to have camp or any kind of program. Once the governor announced that we could open up youth activities, we put a plan together. We call it our corona plan.”

The four-week summer program was revamped to meet CDC guidelines such as reducing the number of participants by half and keeping them in ‘family groups’ of 10 throughout the entirety of the program, including during the more limited field trips. Other precautions included social distancing, hand sanitizers, masks and taking daily temperatures.

The program concluded with a taping of the dances, circus aerials and gymnastics skills the participants had learned.

“With all of that, we’ve had a pretty successful four weeks. The kids are having a lot of fun, even though we’re not able to do the traditional circus. They’re still learning routines for our virtual circus, and they’re still loving it. Gymnastics is a good foundation for any sport,” said Howard. She added that now, more than ever, “they need physical activity and they need social activity.”

Vero Beach High School junior Saniah Smith was enrolled in the program at age 3 by her grandmother and aunt as a way to expend some of her youthful energy.

“I was always flipping around the house doing splits and stuff,” shared Smith. In addition to the dance, gymnastics and aerial skills she has mastered, Smith, who likens the program to a family, said she has learned to always be kind and to practice if you want to excel.

Lauren Kendrick, another longtime participant, is soon heading off to the University of Florida to study nursing. Commenting that what she will remember most is learning how to work with everyone, she added, “that’s how you get better.”

This was the first time in its 45-year history that they were unable to host a live Aerial Antics Circus performance.

“People look forward to it, especially the kids,” said Howard. “It’s a non-competitive environment. These kids are learning things, and they’re having fun doing it. And it’s for everyone. You don’t have to be a great gymnast or a great dancer. We want to educate and involve every child.”

The film showcasing their talents can be viewed on the City of Vero Beach Recreation Department website at covb.org. So pop some popcorn and enjoy the show.

Photos by: Kaila Jones
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