BRATTLEBORO -- Approximately 50 people signed up to try out the flying trapeze that recently moved from Guilford to its new, permanent home on Town Crier Drive in Brattleboro.

"We’re not going to get through the whole list," said New England Center for Circus Arts board member Eveline Martin. "We had a really good turnout."

Her daughter is on the advanced youth troupe and participated in the flying trapeze event on Sunday afternoon. She was among the group of children and adults alike that had to climb a narrow ladder then turn around and step over a gap to get onto the plank before flying.

The ribbon cutting ceremony celebrated the outdoor flying trapeze rig coming to the new property, which was moved to 10 Town Crier Drive.

NECCA purchased the 3 acres in Brattleboro back in January. The flying trapeze was previously kept on property in Guilford.

The new location ultimately will be home to a circus arts training school. The organization hopes to build a $1.2 million, 15,000-square-foot facility there, which will house the flying trapeze, specialized youth rooms, a community meeting room, an in-ground trampoline and foam pit.

The school will be able to take down the flying trapeze for performances when that space is needed, Martin said.

"Until we put a building up, we’re going to use the property for the flying trapeze," she continued. "We’re going to keep this up for classes all summer."

Safety is number one, Martin told the Reformer.


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Several NECCA staff members assisted at the event to "make sure everyone flying is safe." Nets and safety lines were also part of the free flying day.

When Signe Kuusinen, 11, of Vernon, heard the flying trapeze would be open to the public, she had to try it out.

"It’s a once in a lifetime chance," she said. "It’s really scary at first but really fun once you get started."

After briefly thinking it over, Kuusinen told the Reformer she would do it again.

Finn-Ann Cotton, 13, of Keene, N.H., spent two hours stilt-walking on Sunday. Altogether, she has two-and-a-half years experience doing it. She kept moving back and forth between the two stilts, saying moving is easier than trying to balance.

"They’re more like a pole than feet," said Cotton, a member of the advanced youth troupe. "It’s getting hot."

Recently, she has spent time training on the single point trapeze that is triangular in shape. Cotton’s experience began in a Circus Smirkus camp then clown camp. Both camps mentioned the NECCA programming available so it was a natural decision to start training with the organization.

Cotton was wearing a costume similar to others on stilts. She had a long skirt, covering the stilts functioning as legs. Another stilt walker approached. It was Kelsey Ericson, 27, of Brattleboro. She wore wings and creative make-up.

Ericson moved from Arizona two years ago after hearing about the circus programs the Brattleboro area has to offer. She was on stilts for approximately the same amount of time as Cotton but did not plan to go on the flying trapeze.

"I did it last summer and loved it," she said.

When Ericson arrived in Brattleboro, she participated in a professional NECCA program and currently teaches for the school.