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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Over the weekend, the Exchange Club of Lockport held its 56th annual circus that has more than just a little bit of local flavor to it. Sometimes we get so caught up in chain restaurants and international department stores around here that we forget what it means to enjoy something that was born and bred in Lockport.

When I was growing up, almost everything I watched on television or did in the city was homegrown. I am one of those weird people who used to look forward to the real telethons we used to have in the 70s and 80s, and I would actually watch big chunks of those telethons until the wee hours of the morning. I was a big fan of Commander Tom, and I also loved listening to John Otto on the radio. When we had a huge blizzard, I would turn on WLVL and listen for hours. If it had any kind of local flair to it, then I would much prefer it to any nationally produced program.

Everything you could ever want in a small town circus you will find at the Exchange Club Circus each year. The best part is that the Kenan Arena was packed for the 4pm Saturday show. To me, that means that I get to take my grandkids to next year’s performance as well.

There is something special about taking little ones to something as accessible as a small town circus. My three-year-old grandson was clapping and laughing through the whole thing. He loved watching the aerial gymnast as she put on a show that made my neck hurt just watching it. He even loved the clowns, even though he could not hear what they were saying at all. With the energy that every performer put into their performance, it was impossible for a child not to enjoy what was going on.

My one-year-old grandson was a bit overwhelmed at first. The live band was a little loud, there were a ton of people in the arena, and he had never been around that much commotion in his life. After a while, he started to get the hang of it and there was a smile here and there whenever something funny happened.

There is nothing that beats the look of a child at his first circus. My three-year-old grandson is at an impressionable age where he wants to do everything he sees. After I finally got him to go to a hockey game at the Cornerstone Arena, he announced that he wanted to learn how to skate and play hockey. On Sunday, I was watching golf on television and my grandson was sitting in the chair next to me playing on his grandmother’s Kindle. I looked over at him a few minutes later and he was watching the television intently, and announced that he wanted to “learn how to do that.” So now I get to teach my grandson golf. The kid is turning more and more into me every day. Now I am afraid he will want to be a circus clown. I guess there are worse things.

The point is that if you want to share some family moments in Lockport, there are plenty of homegrown ways to go about it. Cornerstone Arena is creating more and more events every month, and activities like the Exchange Club Circus happen all year round in Lockport.

I’m not saying that you cannot go someplace else for those treasured family memories. I mean, everyone needs a vacation. But I think that people sometimes take for granted just how much there is to do around here and how available family memories are within the city of Lockport.

In the summer there is the Niagara County Fair and Lockport’s Little League baseball games, and in the winter there is whatever is going on at the Cornerstone Arena. Anyone who lives here and wants to pass on what it means to be from Lockport to their kids should consider taking advantage of what this city has to offer. When you take the time to investigate all of your Lockport-based entertainment options, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

+George N Root III is a Lockport resident passing on what it means to be from Lockport to the next two generations. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or email him at

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1 comment:

  1. I grew up in Lockport(40's-50's) it was a fantastic time to grow up.I very fondly remember Harrison's Olcott Beach day. My 4 cousins, myself and 4 siblings would get our share of food and ride tickets and be off to have some fun. We would check in with our mom's every so often and be off again.It was a much gentler time back then and our safety wasn't a big concern. Everyone watched out for each other and adults made sure you mined your p's and q's. Lockport was and is a great small town.


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