Seven-year-old Johnathan Van Rassel talks to his mom Thursday as he watched helmet-clad Nick McClintock back flip off a flaming pogo stick.

 

“That should be dangerous,” Rassel said.

 

McClintock, wearing matching green t-shirt and sneakers, and Fred Gryzbowski, wearing complimentary blue, helped kick off the 23rd annual Halifax International Busker Festival Thursday night by entertaining locals and tourists alike.

 

Gryzbowski, pogo-jumping Guinness world record holder, jumped over a rope held seven feet in the air to the great amusement of the cheering crowd.

Richard Lirette travelled from New Brunswick with his family to see the buskers, who are in Halifax until Aug. 16.

“I’ve got to be back at work tomorrow, but we might be coming back Saturday. We’re gonna try,” he said. “I liked it when they participated with the kids.”

Dianne and Mark Saulnier and their girls Jordyn and Lauryn had never seen extreme pogo jumping before. They travelled from Saint John to see the opening ceremonies and plan to stay for a couple days.

“It was cool,” Lauryn said. She and her sister liked the back flips best.

“This was the first year we saw them. They were fantastic,” Dianne said. “We’re off to Becky Hoops now!.”

But the buskers aren’t the only ones entertaining the waterfront crowds. Visitors to the boardwalk will hear humming diggeridoos and harmonic flutes while the smell of salty popcorn and ocean fills the air. A rock wall and a bouncy castle are also available for kids and adults alike.

Before the festival ends, spectators may cast a ballot for their favourite busker act. Last year’s People’s Choice Award went to the Calypso Tumblers, who are returning this year to defend their title.