Amazing aerialists, levitating figures, extraordinary gymnasts and more were in store for the children, families and young superheroes who recently gathered for the kickoff of the national tour of Emergency Circus.

Headquartered in New Orleans in the winter months and Washington state in the summer, Emergency Circus is a group of volunteer circus performers who travel the country presenting free shows for sick children, senior citizens, the homeless, inmates and others whom they refer to as “the under-circused everywhere.”

Emergency Circus has performed for the young and young at heart throughout New Orleans since it was formed a year ago as a nonprofit division of Dr. Patch Adams’ Gesundheit Institute. Four of the members are now setting off on their first nationwide tour, which will cover approximately 5,000 miles and culminate in a benefit show June 17 in Los Angeles. The group will return to New Orleans to perform at Children’s Hospital in the fall.

During the official Emergency Circus tour kickoff party at the French Quarter Firehouse in the Marigny, partygoers of all ages enjoyed an afternoon of live music along with the rare chance to see the highly interactive circus show in an intimate setting. The group’s ringleader, Clay Mazing, led the show clad in a small blue cape while sporting a megaphone.

Mazing engaged the children in the audience, many of whom came dressed as their favorite superhero.

“Ever since I was your age, I wanted a cape. So I grew up, I learned how to juggle and I cultivated my own super abilities,” he told his young audience members. “You too can do anything you want to do if you just set your mind to it.”

With that, Mazing welcomed performers to the stage, including New Orleanian hat juggler Chatty the Mime, sword swallower Eric Odditorium, acrobats Aaron Lind and Kim Lee, and pole and aerial performer Lady Satine.

Clad in red spandex, Lady Satine performed incredible feats of strength on a pole.

“She’s Superwoman,” one youth cried out while watching her gravity-defying acts.

During her mortal moments, Lady Satine is Laura Jurkiewicz, a young woman from Cleveland who came to New Orleans for a show and fell in love with the city.

“The performance community here is pretty small, so we’re all like this big family,” she said. “When I heard about this cause, I contacted Clay because I had to be involved.”

In addition to Mazing, the Emergency Circus tour will consist of two women from the San Francisco Bay Area, Drea Lusion and Harmonie Lyrics, along with a man named Super Head from Tucson, Arizona. Super Head already has made a name for himself with his levitation skills after three performances on last year’s season of “America’s Got Talent.”

Super Head’s levitation and magic acts were definitely a hit among the eight children Gretna resident Cheryl Salahuddin brought to the kickoff party. She said her family saw the Emergency Circus at the Earth Day festival in Armstrong Park and enjoyed them so much they had to come show support for their tour.

“The best thing about this event is that the performers are just hanging out with the kids. Even before the show, Super Head came out and was teaching the kids how to do magic tricks.”

Salahuddin said that when the kids heard a sno-ball company was giving out free snoballs on the corner, they had to go get some to share with the performers. It’s that kind of give and take that Emergency Circus hopes to bring to audiences everywhere.

“How cool is that?” Salahuddin asked. “But, you know, that’s New Orleans for you.”

For more information, visit www.