Steven Paananen was on the MBTA Red Line coming home from a gig as a juggling, balloon animal-making unicyclist on Saturday when passengers began asking him to show off his unicycling skills. He happily obliged.
That video of Paananen’s balancing act on the T has been shared across Boston news the past few days, and the MBTA Transit police even admonished Paananen for breaching MBTA etiquette and called the unicycling “dangerous.”
But the unicycle ride on the T was nothing new for him. Nor was it all that dangerous, Paananen told Boston.com in a phone interview. “It’s easier to balance on the T on a unicycle than standing up,” he said.
That’s almost certainly false for the majority of Bostonians, but apparently not so for Paananen, who has been riding unicycles for 11 years now. Paananen makes money doing gigs for his unicycling skills, which he shows off on Instagram videos under @StevenBalloons.
On the unicycle, he can juggle all manner of items and can even create balloon animals aboard the ride. In his latest performance, for example, he juggles large knives near Faneuil Hall for onlookers, as he partly demonstrated in a recent video.
The knives weren’t out for the T ride, though, and he said he was performing just for fun, not for money. He insisted he had plenty of space to operate and that nobody seemed to complain. “I can understand why people would see it and think it’s dangerous, but in reality the worst that would happen is I would just step off the unicycle,” he said.
After the MBTA criticism, he said he will try to resist the urge to unicycle on the train again. For now, at least.
“You might see Steven on the unicycle on the T again,” he said. “You can’t guarantee that I’ll stop completely, but I’ll try.”