‘Cirkus’ brings joy to Bronx as COVID cases decline


Scenes from a Bronx celebration as COVID-19 cases in New York continue to decline (Michelle Ross/PIX11).

THE BRONX — The Bronx was the hardest hit borough throughout the pandemic, and now with 70% of adults in New York State receiving at least one dose of the vaccine, the borough is celebrating that milestone in a unique way — while also clowning around.

From magic tricks to impressive hula-hooping, the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus brought its services on the road to Lou Gehrig Plaza on E. 161st Street. They’ve been in business for more than 25 years, but now the show is on wheels for the first time ever. 

Keith Nelson, executive director and founder, said they decided in the post-pandemic era to mount the circus on parade floats and take it out right into the streets and to the people.

The new production is meant to help give Bronxites a chance to escape from some tragedies they may have faced last year.

Dr. Cary Goodman, executive director of the 161st Street Business Improvement District, said this neighborhood suffered more than any other in New York. 

“We had the most hospitalizations,” Dr. Goodman said. “Six-thousand people died.”

Attendees enjoyed the performance, saying they needed this, because they were in quarantine for so long. 

“The Bronx was hit the hardest,” one woman said. “So, all of this is bringing joy to us all and peace and whatnot, and I am thankful.”

One child said this was the first circus he’s ever been to. 

Another added her favorite part was the balancing act.

“She had lots of moves,” the young girl said. “And could keep herself balanced.”

Finally getting to do these acts in person after 14 months of virtual entertainment is rewarding for Nelson and his team. 

“We love audience,” Nelson said. “We want that instant reaction. We want to share real moments with people.”

And they will get to do so as they take the flatbed follies citywide throughout the summer. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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