Wednesday, October 30, 2013

About the header image: October 30, 2013

I created this header image months ago. The plan was to post it this week, just before the Twelfth Annual Sideshow Gathering began right here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. For the twelfth consecutive year, many of the world's most talented and creative sideshow performers would be converging on Wilkes-Barre, to the sideshow convention that was a labor of love of the late, great Franco Kossa.'s not happening.

Franco died about two and a half years ago, five months before the fabulous Tenth Annual Sideshow Gathering. Still, the show must go on, and the people who knew and loved Franco carried on in his name. It wasn't easy without him, and it got harder as the months led up to the Eleventh Annual Sideshow Gathering last year. But all the stops were pulled out, the legendary Todd Robbins (the man in red to the left of center) was signed on to host, and many veterans of the Gathering lines up to rub elbows with some first timers.

Then Superstorm Sandy hit.

It didn't hit Wilkes-Barre. The Gathering itself was fine. But it hit New Jersey, New York, Coney many people who were planning to come to the Gathering had their home bases, and in many cases their homes, devastated by the storm. Those who managed to make it through brought tales of unbelievable destruction and chaos.

Those who were there made the most of it. The great fun and camaraderie that are the hallmarks of the Gathering (tempered by the knowledge that someone, maybe many someones, is or are stealing your act) permeated the 2012 edition as well. At the midpoint of the second day, Todd called everyone to the stage to try to break a record that had been set at the Gathering two years before: the largest mass Human Blockhead, in which dozens of people would simultaneously shove things - traditionally nails, but also spoon handles, crochet needles, switchblades, ice picks, screwdrivers, and other objects - up their noses and into their sinuses. The record was easily broken, as seen in the photo above. There is so much amazing talent in the picture above, and I have the honor of being on a first-name basis with almost everyone there - and in daily contact with many of them.

The Sideshow Gathering is on hiatus this year.But it is not done for, not if the people who loved it so much have anything to say about it. Plans are already in the works for next year's Gathering, bigger and bolder than ever before. When it does happen, I know I'll be there!

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