Community Service Is No Act At Showmen's Club

By Mitch Traphagen (

GIBSONTON - Their careers are spent in the world of entertainment, magic, thrills and promotion. It is, after all, the circus. It is the greatest show on earth. And while virtually all performers put their hearts and souls into their performance, at the end of the day it was just a show, it was all just an act.

But for the members of the Showmen’s Club in Gibsonton, their dedication to community service is most definitely not just an act.

Each year, dozens of performers and support personnel from the Showmen’s Club donate their talent and many hours of labor towards the Gibsonton Charity Circus. The event raises thousands of dollars for both local and national charities. It also provides South County residents an opportunity to see and enjoy a great show in an old-fashioned circus atmosphere. That event is promoted throughout the area and thousands of people attend.

But beyond that event and behind the scenes the members of the Showmen’s Club continue to work for their community, they continue to help out those in need.

They did not go out of their way to announce to the media that the Showmen’s Club recently hosted a Christmas party for nearly 200 special-needs children. There was no promotion of the fact that smiling children left with gifts after meeting Santa Claus and being entertained by professional performers.

They didn’t contact the media because the members of the Showmen’s Club were not looking for kudos or public acclaim. They were simply going about the business of helping out those in need in their community.

Dozens of boxes of food line a hallway near an exhibition hall inside the club building. Similarly, there is no press release detailing how those boxes of food will soon become dinner baskets for 100 needy families in the area. Again, the goal is not acclaim, the goal is simply to help those who need it.

But the word does eventually get out, there are occasional stories in Tampa Bay newspapers. But the stories, including this one, only tell of a moment in time, perhaps just of a specific event.

At the Showmen’s Club however, community service is most definitely not just another act, it is not just a single show. It is a commitment.

In addition to the annual circus, the Showmen’s Club, in conjunction with the Showmen’s Shrine Club, will also sponsor their first annual Motorcycle Poker Run on January 4.

A poker run is an event where participating motorcyclists travel over a predetermined course and stop at designated points to select a card. At the end of the run, the person with the best poker hand wins a prize.  In this case, the first prize is $1,000, the second prize is $200 and the third prize and scavenger hunt prizes are each $100. There is a $25 entry fee which includes breakfast, a commemorative T-shirt and admission to the run. There is a $10 fee for an additional rider but that fee also includes breakfast and a T-shirt.

The event is described as a family event that will include live music, an afternoon BBQ, a fun ride, bike judging with trophies and other entertainment. There will also be a vendor area. Breakfast will be served beginning at 7 a.m. and the first bikes out will hit the road at 10 a.m.

All proceeds will be donated to charity.

The event will be held at the Showmen’s Club at 6915 Riverview Drive in Gibsonton. For information call 677-3590.

The annual Gibsonton Circus will be held on January 10. The venue will include a live circus band and professional performers and exotic animals all under the big top. Further information will be available in the coming weeks through the number listed above and in a feature story in the Observer News.

Helping those in need in their community has long been an important aspect of the Showmen’s Club. Their goal is to help; they do not seek acclaim for their good work.

For both their large public events such as the circus and now a poker run - and particularly for their quiet good deeds such as providing Christmas dinner for 100 needy families, the members of the Showmen’s Club most certainly deserve acclaim. They have earned it.

Mitch Traphagen Photo

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