As Domenic Lopez, 45, juggles balls, he methodically creates patterns in the air that are almost beautiful to look at.
"It's really meditative," he said, as he practiced with the Turk's Head Jugglers, a local juggling club.
The group practices outdoors next to the Chester County Courthouse in West Chester every Saturday morning in good weather, which means mostly spring and summer. In winter, they practice in a school gym.
Lopez, a Willistown resident who works as a massage therapist and exercise consultant, also said that juggling is a "novel way to improve core strength" and an "anti-Alzheimer's" remedy because of the focus required to keep the balls from dropping.
The club started eight years ago, taking the name Turks Head, which was the original name of West Chester. Club founder Randy Lyons, 60, started juggling when he was unemployed and flipped on Sesame Street on the tube. There were jugglers performing and he was inspired to try it himself.
He started Turk's Head Jugglers to help people learn the hobby faster. "I didn't want anyone else to suffer," said Lyons, a West Chester resident.
Now, the club boasts about 50 members, ranging in age from 10 to 80 years old.
Audra Supplee, 50, a children's book author, incorporates her hobby into a presentation she does for schools called "Juggling All the Pieces that Make a Story," during which she talks about writing elements like character, conflict and climax.
"Juggling can be a metaphor for anything" in life, she said.
On the steps of the courthouse for the first time was 11-year-old Phil Benjamin of Pottstown, who was juggling two balls with one hand. He just learned last November and brought his two friends, David Limison, 10, and Jamie Burry, 11, to watch the Turk's Head Jugglers.
Juggling an impressive seven tennis balls at a time was Bill Peirce, 45, of Wayne. He wore a yellow T-shirt that said "Jugglers Anonymous" that he won at a juggling contest for five-ball endurance, which is keeping five balls in the air without dropping any of them. He practices every day because, he said, "It's challenging and keeps me out of trouble."
His skills turned the heads of Todd and Evan McIntyre, a father-son duo from Oaks, who came to their first Turk's Head Jugglers' gathering. Todd, 43, took his son Evan, 11, to the club so he could learn from other jugglers. "He can't learn from dad," Todd joked.
While juggling balls might be the first thing that comes to mind, jugglers also branch out to juggling pins, throwing yo-yos and speed-stacking cups.
Peirce switched to passing clubs with Jack McMichael, 54, a West Chester resident who works as a risk-management consultant. Both men juggled and passed the clubs, which look like bowling pins, across the lawn to each other in perfect time.
Across the street, Carol Williams was admiring the pair on her break from her job as customer-service representative at First National Bank. "What amazes me is how they switch it," she said, awestruck at their skills. She said she could already juggle three balls and plans on practicing with the clubs later on the summer.
In one corner, Erin Clemens, 17, of West Goshen Township stacked and unstacked 12 plastic cups in a pyramid-like structure in less than 12 seconds. She even had a special mat with an electronic timer. She first saw cup stacking, also called sports stacking, on television about three years ago, and ordered her own set online.
According to the club's Lyons, you can't buy any juggling equipment in Chester County; everything has to be bought on the Internet. He said people in the club were encouraged to try out each other's equipment before they buy it themselves.
The hobby can be expensive. A juggling ball can cost $8 and a juggling pin can cost $35. Loaning equipment is a "valuable service we provide," said Lyons.
That, and free entertainment for passersby.
As Cameron Wagner, 4, walked with his father, Chuck, to find a gift for Mother's Day, he couldn't tear his eyes away from the jugglers. Chuck told his son he could juggle too, and said to his son, "Maybe Daddy will show you how to juggle."
It seems the Turk's Head Jugglers can also bring families closer.
See Them Juggle
Turk's Head Jugglers practice next to the Chester County Courthouse, 2 N. High St., West Chester, Saturday mornings, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. when weather permits.
For more information, go to www.turksheadjugglers.com.