Winnipeg News | Local Breaking | CTV News Winnipeg
Entertainer Al Simmons ready to take stage after devastating fire
Manitoba entertainer Al Simmons is crediting an outpouring of community support in helping him rebuild and return to the stage.
Nearly two months ago, a fire tore through two storage trailers on Simmons’ Anola property.
Fire officials with the RM of Springfield told CTV News they believed the fire was electrical in nature.
The structures held most of the performer’s costumes and props, which were specially-made items he’d collected over decades in show business.
Simmons was at home when the blaze broke out, along with his wife Barb, and the couple’s grand-daughter.
He told CTV News after calling 911, he even rushed into the trailers in hopes of salvaging some of his beloved pieces.
“The first thing I pulled out was my bicycle horse, old spoke,” said Simmons.
“The last time I went in and came out with an armful of costumes and didn’t realize it, but they were on fire.”
Including “de-smoking” his bicycle horse, Simmons and his wife have focused their energy on salvaging certain props and rebuilding what they can.
“For people that haven’t seen my shows, that’s what makes me the saddest of all. Because those people missed out on seeing all the stuff that’s gone, that’s never going to be seen again,” said Simmons.
Community members rallied behind the couple after the fire, raising over $50,000 to help them rebuild the prop collection, with Simmons saying insurance would cover the loss of the structures.
Still, Simmons said he was apprehensive at first about taking any help, only accepting it when he realized it was necessary.
"The amount of support we got not only encouraged me to keep going, but also gave me the finances to be able to do it,” said Simmons.
“It would have been impossible. Bankruptcy would have been the only choice.”
While Simmons said he still has a few more props to put together in his workshop, he said he’s ready for upcoming shows in early April with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.