We surprised the kids today with a visit downtown to see the Shrine Circus. My wife found a "great deal" on tickets, so it wasn't too expensive. Sure, great deal. Once we walked in there I was robbed of every dime I had.
It's a good thing the Shriners are a charitable organization. Because there is NO reason a visit for four to the circus should have cost us over $120.
It started with the $9 for parking. Well, The folks that run Mellon Arena obviously need to maintain the parking lots somehow, at least until they are all torn up in six months when the new arena for the Penguins starts construction. Once inside, they really had us cornered.
Since we arrived early, we were able to wander around the show floor a bit. Lo and behold, the circus elephants were out and giving rides to all the kids....at five bucks a shot. Then, to the moon bounce, for another $5 each. Once we found our seats, it was of course time for a snack. Nachos, a pretzel, and a couple of drinks, $14.75. and the list goes on.
But what REALLY got me was the "great deal" on tickets. Those tickets included a hot dog and drink for each of us. so, upon intermission we ventured over to the concessions. It turns out those vouchers were only good for soda. My kids don't drink soda. So we asked for water. Oh no, those vouchers aren't good for water. Water costs an additional $3.50. I even asked for an empty cup so we could find a drinking fountain. Nope. They weren't allowed to just give us cups (thinking about this now, I should have asked for the soda then dumped it out, but I was too stunned at the time to come up with that idea).
And then, of course, came the souvenirs. Look at all those flashy sparkly things. We were able to make it almost to intermission without buying them each a flashy sparkly thing, but there's a reason the "ringmaster" got her name. At one point she had asked for the lights in the stadium to be turned off, so all the kids with sparkly flashy things could light 'em up, and all those poor waifs without flashy sparkly things could feel unloved. Twenty-two dollars later my kids allowed me back into the family.
In the end, I gave over $80 to the Shriners' machine, plus the cost of the tickets. They'd better save a couple of really sick hospital patients for that.
Oh, a final note about that $3.50 water. That does not include a cap on the bottle. The lady at the concession stand told me it's a national law that bottles of Dasani must me provided sans cap at all stadium events. Supposedly this is for safety reasons, but we all know the real answer...more chance of accidental spillage, forcing another purchase.
Oh, and as for that "Visa...Priceless" moment? That was probably when Jessica said to me, "Daddy, I'm bored. when's this over?".