This is the story of the small troupe of Russian circus performers who fell in love with the West Miami-Dade city of Sweetwater while touring the United States.
“The little people,” as they are often called, played a pivotal role in the organization of Sweetwater.
The troupe was formed by Michael Sokolsky, one of the little people.
The “Royal Russian Midgets,” arrived in the U.S. through the port of San Francisco. They had lost all hope of returning to their hometown in Russia due to the aftermath of the Russian Revolution in 1917.
Unfortunately, their talent and child-like nature were noticed by audiences but wasn’t rewarded by their managers. Managers exploited them and kept the tiny troupe poor.
Necessity grew their relationship, and they were forced to take matters into their own hands. Therefore, they decided to run the show on their own.
After performing for three decades, they began considering seeking the possibility of retirement. They came across Sweetwater Estates off the Tamiami Trail and were open to the opportunity to finally settle down.
Clyde Andrews, was the owner of Sweetwater Estates, and his efforts to develop lots in the area encouraged the troupe to become one of his first customers.
They started building their homes in Sweetwater in the early 1940s.
Isolina Maroño, who has lived in Sweetwater for more than 50 years, recalls the reactions of people when they saw the little people.
“Many of the residents were afraid to approach them, and others like me were just curious,” said Maroño. “We wanted to know more about them and see what they were about.”
While the majority of people that interacted with them have passed away, one of the oldest residents still remains alive.
Margaret Wright, 83, who has lived in Sweetwater since the little people settled in, recalls playing and interacting with them on the daily basis. Her memory may not be the best due to her age, however, one thing she does recall is being a guest at one of the little people’s homes.
They were the strangest people anyone ever saw but for her they were a huge part of her childhood memories.
“As a young child, I drove my parents crazy with questions about the little people and since they didn’t have those answers for me, I went on a daily quest to find out more and more,” said Wright. “The little people made up for the perfect playhouse during very difficult times in my life.”