- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Pentagon was a circus yesterday — literally.

Hundreds of military employees and family members swarming inside the building’s courtyard yesterday got a circus-style workout, as the Defense Department teamed up with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to celebrate national “Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day.”

The program, “CircusFit,” is a new national youth-fitness campaign headed by Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus to teach children fun ways to stay fit, active and healthy.

The circus — complete with a ringmaster, clowns and fitness instructor Charmaine Trotman — put children and parents through their paces with various stretching and aerobic activities.

“I’m glad I didn’t do PT [physical therapy] today,” said Lt. Roy F. Schender, who works in the Army’s information operations division. “I got my workout this morning” at the circus.

Lt. Schender, who has been working at the Pentagon for about seven months, brought his 6-year-old son, Roy, to the office yesterday.

The boy’s favorite part of yesterday’s program was a feigned spit-take in which the clowns sprayed each other with water to teach the children the importance of staying hydrated during workouts.

Raphael Kofie, 13, said he most enjoyed Chinese acrobat Liliu, who captivated the crowd with a gravity-defying, plate-spinning routine.

“I, myself, had never been out to a circus,” said the boy’s stepfather, Army 1st Lt. Richard Kofie. “So, it was pretty fun for me, too.”

The event was held by the circus in conjunction with America Supports You, a program that the Defense Department created to encourage Americans to show their support for members of the armed forces.

The nationally observed day — celebrated annually on the fourth Thursday in April — evolved from “Take Your Daughter to Work Day,” which began in 1993.

Originally created to expose girls to different facets of the working world, the day was expanded in 2003 to include sons, too.

This was the second year that America Supports You celebrated the day at the Pentagon, said Eileen M. Lainez, a spokeswoman.

Last year, the partnership was with Marvel Comics, a division of Marvel Entertainment Inc.

Marvel also created a custom comic book, “Salute Our Troops,” with superhero characters such as Captain America and the Fantastic Four woven into a military-themed story line.

More than 1 million copies of Marvel’s comic book were distributed to the troops and their families in the U.S. and in forward-deployed locations through the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.

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