In The Center of It All
by Erica Butler | published Sep. 26th, 2014
On Friday September 19, I was drawn to the center of Rochester to live on the fringe with the rest of the locals. As I waited in line to get into Manhattan Square Park, a man playing the accordion sang “Fill ‘er right up” to the crowd, hoping for money in return. After five minutes of waiting in what I thought was a security line, I realized that the line was in fact pointless for me, as it was for people buying alcoholic beverages. As I meandered through the festivities, there was juggling to my right, guitar playing to my left and Scottish men in kilts with bagpipes down the steps below. Along the border of the park were food vendors selling gyros, fries, hotdogs and popcorn. I was surprised by how many people actually came to this event, with a crowd consisting of those who were young, old and teenagers.
Past the men in kilts were concrete steps which led to a small stage area. An Irish music band was playing, with fiddle and flute to adding to their sound. While the band played, children laughed merrily and danced hand in hand in a circle while other kids snapped their fingers and strutted to the beat. The scene was very family-oriented. Curly-haired children sat on their daddy’s shoulders and husbands rolled empty strollers while mothers walked behind them, babies in arm. Families brought chairs and blankets in preparation for the evening’s event and Rochester weather.
I climbed back up the concrete steps, passing the kilts and bagpipes in anticipation for a new event: TRICYCLE by Circus Orange. As I stood on the grass among the crowd of people waiting for the show to start, I wrapped myself tighter in my sweater to brace against the Rochester chill and watched a man in interesting dress stand upon a large wheeled apparatus approximately the height of a small tree. This was to be the tricycle, I assumed.
“The guy looks like he’s from The Hunger Games,” commented a man behind me.
I noticed that in his elaborate face make up and top hat, the gentleman did look as if he belonged in the Capitol of Panem. Suddenly, my attention was drawn away from the man from District 1 to a lady dressed in a white leotard, pants and a head wrap. She proceeded to dance some sort of alternative Oompa Loompa-ish routine while men walked behind her with lit torches. As suddenly as her dancing began, it ended, and my eyes were drawn to people in red cloaks holding more torches. My attention was again brought to the man on the tricycle-like apparatus, but this time he was joined by another man. This one was dressed in a striped orange and yellow shirt, a purple hat that had little ears, a red clown nose, ripped gray tights and stuffed light blue shorts that seemed appropriate for a parody video of Anaconda by Nicki Minaj. This new character began to speak, but his monologue was in complete gibberish. He continued to speak in a language that no one could understand while the lady dressed in white climbed inside the wheel of the large tricycle apparatus as it became surrounded by torch holders. The wheeled apparatus began to make noise, and fire came out of what seemed like a chimney attached to the back as it slowly began moving to the other side of the lawn. As I watched this large contraption propel itself forward, I made my way through the crowd, expressing many "excuse me"s and "pardon me"s along the way to the gyro food vendor. I purchased some overpriced but tasty French fries, and having lost interest after an hour and a half of being at the festival and not understanding the man speaking gibberish, headed back to the pleasant familiarity of RIT.