copied from Juggler's World, Spring 1985, 37:1:27

GJE meets on the briny sea

Less than two years ago in Coconut Grove, Florida, a juggler gave a lecture/demonstration at the local library, hoping to find others who shared his enthusiasm. It turned out that more than half of the 15 people who showed up already juggled. The next step was a decision to meet one night a week, and Peacock Park became the site of Thursday gatherings of 8-10 jugglers.

Before long, the park director offered the group the air-conditioned, high-ceilinged recreation center. This encouraged longer and more active gatherings, and the future of the group seemed assured.

A few jugglers were already IJA members, and suggested affiliation with that body. The name, "Grove Juggling Exchange," was chosen and Dave Dodd, the library demonstrator, was elected "self-appointed president for life."

Dodd headed a delegation attending the IJA Purchase convention in 1983 that returned infused with energy. New members were sought via radio announcements and newspaper listings. Membership swelled from 20 to 50 within a few months. A newsletter was started, workshops and casual competitions were introduced at meetings and field trips were set up to see acts passing through.

Some members participated as a group in local parades, focusing on demonstration and teaching. One even netted $100, and through other donations Dodd was sent to the IJA Las Vegas convention as the Grove ambassador, charged to gather information and literature for those back home.

During the last half of 1984 the CJE grew more with the help of a cover story in the Miami Herald and a televised news report that aired nationally on CNN.

The exchange also hosted an unusual church service entitled "The Blessing of Performers" at which the story "The Juggler of Notre Dame" was read and clowns presented an interpertation of the Lord's Prayer. About 25 jugglers, mimes, magicians and clowns silently performed their respective arts at the altar to conclude the service.

Late last year, monthly juggling pot-luck suppers were initiated by Tricia Allen of Rocky Mountain Juggling Supplies. These parties cemented the social side of GJE's collective activities. January's party was aboard a 60-foot yacht that cruised the coast for a few hours. Amazingly enough, only one beanbag was lost overboard!

picture of jugglers in the 1984 Mango Strut

The club marched as the Juggling Marching Militia in the Mango Strut Parade, a light-hearted Coconut Grove tradition. Parade viewers were treated to grenade juggling, knife juggling and the terrifying manipulation of an MX missle club, globe and rubber chicken. Nose glasses were worn to conceal true identities.

Grove Jugglers feel like they've just begun to percolate. Membership continues to grow and more field trips and workshops are scheduled for the spring. A unicycling club is about to emerge as a spinoff of the CGE's activities. A convention is in the planning stages. Club members are proving that like juggling itself, a juggling club's activities are limitless.