Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
The St. Cloud Municipal Band's annual circus concert reaches its 20th anniversary. The group ended its Summer Concert Series with a circus theme since 1989. The anniversary performance is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, in Barden Park.
Former Municipal Band Director (1985-95) and current tuba player, Bob Wig set up the first circus concert two decades ago. Wig joined the Windjammer Circus Music Organization, a group of men and women dedicated to preserving music played during the Golden Age of the Circus, and thought it would be a good theme for a Municipal Band concert. Wig says, "I thought it would be fun to establish an annual circus music night in St. Cloud," and he felt the last performance of the summer was a perfect fit. Current director Glen Tuomaala says the performance is challenging, and a lot of fun for the band, "the concert is a great challenge as we only get one rehearsal before we have to perform, but it also could not be more enjoyable with the great park atmosphere, the root beer floats, and of course, all the clowns."
The clowns who attend the circus concert have been coming even before the theme started. The clowns were originally part of the St. Cloud Telephone Company's Pioneer Club and came to some of the Summer Concert Series performances. However, in 1988 the clowns did not show up to the performance after it was published they would be at the concert. Joyce Van Heel felt you should not promise something and then not do it, and went home, and got the clown costume she had made to wear at her kid's school class parties. She returned to the concert in costume, and clowned around all night. The next year, Bob Wig started the circus theme, and the two have been going strong together ever since.
Van Heel, Mary Starnes, and Marilyn Wig decided to dress up as clowns for following circus performances. Van Heel says they keep coming back as clowns to bring smiles to the crowd, "I love to dress up, make people laugh, and act silly. I found a Miss Piggy costume at a garage sale for $2.50, and have come as her ever since." Van Heel has sewn over 20 clown costumes over the years, and recruits friends, family, and anyone else who wants to clown around to help perform. There have been as many as 28 clowns at the Circus Concert, and there are always lots of helium balloons, and crepe paper streamers all prepared by Van Heel.
Tuomaala says it is a great tradition that Wig and Van Heel started for the St. Cloud Municipal Band and hopes to continue the theme for many more years, "It is one of the band's most anticipated concerts of the year. We can't thank Bob and Joyce enough for all their hard work over the years. We hope to continue the tradition they established, and reach our 50th anniversary and beyond. Bob Wig still selects most of the music for the concert by utilizing the St. Cloud Municipal Band's music and the Brass Band lending library.
The St. Cloud Municipal Band is a fellowship of musicians sharing a tradition of performing great music. The Municipal Band is a non-profit organization. For information on how you can support the St. Cloud Municipal Band, or to learn more about the group visit www.municipalband.com, or e-mail