As people began to walk by and throw change, the human statue was born, and C Ray decided he would make a living off of busking in different cities.
“If you treat it like a hustle, it’s a hustle,” C Ray said. “If you treat it like an art, it’ll be an art.”
While people typically walk by without really paying attention, C Ray often comes to life, creating an element of surprise.
“It’s entertainment you wouldn’t expect,” he said.
Children on Franklin Street often tug at his clothes and question if he’s real, C Ray said.
The statue has appeared in more than a dozen cities, from New York City to Tampa, and C Ray said the work has become a passion for him.
“I get to meet a lot of people and have conversations, just connecting with the people,” he said.
Offering a different style of entertainment, Bruce Thomas has made a name for himself as the “Dancing Man of Carrboro.”
But Thomas said when he first came to Carrboro, he didn’t dance. It wasn’t until one Thursday evening in 2002 that he found his inspiration.
As he sat on a bench in front of Weaver Street Market, Thomas noticed a group of kids dancing around a tree with a friend of his who shared the same yoga philosophies. Wanting to dance with the kids, Thomas said he looked to God for guidance. He said the Lord said for him to practice what he preached and face his fears.
After much hesitation, Thomas proceeded to walk slowly towards the tree, and his body started moving.
Twelve years later, Thomas can still be found dancing most mornings and evenings in the same spot in front of Weaver Street Market.
“The greatness of dancing is the flow of energy or the space that you can get into and how you can uplift your own spirits,” he said.
In the summer of 2006, Thomas’ dancing came to an abrupt halt as Car Mill Mall banned him from dancing in front of Weaver Street Market. Community members of both Carrboro and Chapel Hill responded by organizing protests to bring Bruce back in a campaign known as “Let Bruce Dance.” After three months of controversy, then ban was lifted and Thomas went back to his daily dancing routine.
“I think he’s fascinating and inspiring, and I have actually incorporated his philosophies into my own canon,” said senior economics major Evan Comen.
After many years, Thomas has chosen to remain on the Carr Mill Mall property because he finds there is a lot of ancient energy in the ground that attracts people from all over.
“My whole purpose of doing what I do in life is to spread peace, love and joy, and that’s why I do everything that I do.”