A Good Time at Sarasota Arts Day

New Year’s Resolution Test

Yes, I made a New Year’s Resolution. But instead of the ones that everyone breaks, like losing weight or exercising, I decided to make a simpler resolution. I promised myself that, from now on, every day will be either a good day or a great day. Now, I’m not a Pollyanna. I know that difficult things will happen to me, that there will be things that do not make me particularly happy, that there will be tough times, but despite these things, every day can still be at least a good day, because happiness is a choice and I have much to be grateful for.

It’s the 13th of January and so far, so good. I haven’t had any GREAT days but they’ve all been good days. This morning was the first test of my resolution. I was awakened at 7:30 AM by the landlord, who was dragging the trash cans around the parking lot. Just as I was about to drift off to sleep, he began hammering in the office on the first floor, directly beneath my bedroom. I finally gave up on the idea of sleep when, at 8:30, he began running a saw to cut tile. It was not an auspicious beginning to the day, but I refused to let it get to me. As I walked to downtown, headed for Sarasota’s annual Arts Day, I repeated over and over, it’s a good day, it’s a good day.

My mood lifted immediately when I arrived downtown, where thousands of people were meandering past hundreds of booths or attending performances at one of five stages set up around town: the Jazz Stage, the International Stage, the Contemporary Stage, the Teen Stage, the Student Stage, the Dance Stage, and the Circus Sarasota Stage. Immediately I joined the crowd on the lawn to listen to acoustic guitarist Ishmael Katz:

Sarasota Arts Day

Acoustic guitarist Ishmael Katz at Sarasota Arts Day

In addition to the music venues there were poetry readings, clowns, balloon artists, magicians, jugglers, puppet shows, bellydancers, and cloggers:

Sarasota Arts Day

Juggler

Sarasota Arts Day

Bellydancers

There were demonstrations by charcoal sketch artists and weavers making wool yarn on old-fashioned spinning wheels. Activities for kids included puppet making, face painting, caricature artists, and even a booth where they could “paint” on shaving foam:

Sarasota Arts Day

Kids crafts

Sarasota Arts Day

Face painting

Sarasota Arts Day

Watercolor art

As always, these events bring out a few crazies, like this guy who billed himself as the “Naked Cowboy” and handed out fliers soliciting appearances at parties and events.

Sarasota Arts Day

Naked cowboy

Everywhere, people like this couple sitting on the lawn, were enjoying the live performances:

Sarasota Arts Day

Enjoying the live music

This intense young woman was listening intently to a performance at the Contemporary Stage:

Sarasota Arts Day

Spectator at Sarasota Arts Day

This child who was delighted by the bubble machine:

Sarasota Arts Day

Can she pop one?

And this fella, who wears clear evidence of having a gay old time:

Sarasota Arts Day

He’d better wipe that off before his wife sees it…

But for me, the best part of the day was the performance by the Sarasota Pops Orchestra, which featured a medley of songs from the Wizard of Oz, followed by a medley from Phantom of the Opera.

Sarasota Arts Day

Sarasota Pops Orchestra

Sarasota Arts Day

Sarasota Pops Orchestra

Sarasota Arts Day

Sarasota Pops Orchestra

From expressions the on the faces in the audience there is little doubt that the performance deeply affected everyone. People stood with their arms around one another, rooted to the pavement. Others stood with their mouths agape. Some even shed tears. The energy was palpable and amazing:

Sarasota Arts Day

Enjoying the music

Sarasota Arts Day

Spellbound

I wandered through the crowd snapping photos until I could no longer resist the music – I simply had to stop what I was doing and just listen. It was beautiful. As I made my way home I realized it had not been a good day….it had been been a GREAT day, and not even the sawing of the tile (which was still going on when I arrived home at 5:30 PM) could not ruin my great mood.

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