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Shrine Circus Worth the Trip

El Riad Shrine Circus
El Riad Shrine Circus

As many of my journeys are wont to do, it began spontaneously, in error, and late. When I heard that my youngest son’s daycare was taking a trip to the circus, I was disappointed that he would miss it, since he would be home with me that day. Unbeknownst to me, his teacher slipped two comp tickets in his diaper bag.

I found the tickets at 11:45 and saw that it was the El Riad Shrine Circus. Remembering that their location is close by, I decided to walk the little guy over there in his stroller. I set off at 12:20, fully expecting an hour or so of a circus for babies; clowns, trained poodles, hulahoop tricks and what not.

What I found when I got there was a reminder on their marquee that tickets were only available at the arena. It was then that I realized that this was going to be a real circus.

Driving to the arena wasn’t an option, because my wife had our car for the day. Remembering that the city bus terminal was just a few blocks away, I headed there. The arena is a popular destination, right? Surely I could get on a bus and still make the show, albeit a little late.

The next bus for the arena left at 1:45. Another route that would have put me at 12th and Western, still quite a hoof from the arena, didn’t leave until 1:15. This is a bus system that is wholly unbefitting a city with the size and stature of Sioux Falls. Bus systems are run on taxes though, and you get what you pay for.

It was a beautiful day, and I could get there faster on foot, so I decided to go for it. Walking through Sioux Falls, it struck me that the tree clean-up is going painfully slow. In many cases the downed limbs completely cover the sidewalk, meaning that I had to push the stroller through people’s muddy yards. Also, as a courtesy to others, try to avoid parking in your driveway in a way that blocks the sidewalk. I made it around, but someone in a wheelchair would not have been so lucky.

My son slept through the entire trip. He didn’t miss that much. The highlight of the walk was passing through the city parks, they look great and are ready to go. Spring has finally arrived, and the parks are waiting. Apparently, the city has decided cleaning up the trees there was more important than getting them off the sidewalks.

Given the route that I took, the walk was about 4 miles. I arrived at 1:35, in time for the final act of the first half of the show, and ten minutes before the bus for the arena would have left. On the floor where we sat, I was struck by the number of people in wheel chairs, and the elderly in assisted living groups. Apparently the complimentary tickets went to more than just daycares.

Mind you that these are people who disproportionately make up public transit ridership; at least when said transit system is adequate to a city’s needs. Judging by the number of organizations’ vans in the parking lot, they didn’t take the bus either. Someone unaffiliated with such groups though, would have had to take the bus, likely with a long wait for a transfer, or just skip the circus.

And that would have been a shame. The show was great. I won’t spoil it for you by telling you what I saw, but suffice it to say, it was well worth the effort and the $5 that I spent on concessions and glow-in-the-dark party favors for my toddler son. He was enthralled and sat still through the whole thing, which is saying something. For a minute there, I was a serious candidate for Dad of the Year.

When the show ended, I asked an arena employee where the bus stop was, and she had no idea. I cannot stress this enough; Sioux Falls needs a better public transit system! It would have been a long wait anyway, had I had the heart to circle the arena looking for the stop.

So, inspired by the feats of human achievement I had just witnessed, I mustered up my pluck and set out on foot again for home. At a more leisurely pace and on a more direct route, the 2.5 mile walk home took me 50 minutes and through more city parks.

As many of my journeys are wont to do, it ended with me wanting to go back, more organized next time.

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