Wellington juggler Mike Wahrlich fondly remembered at funeral

Mike Wahrlich.

The life of Wellington character Mike the Juggler is being celebrated today after he perished in the Loafers Lodge fire last week.

Michael Wahrlich, 67, juggled on some of the busiest streets in the capital including Cuba Street and in recent years Lambton Quay.

A funeral service is being held in Newtown where the public were also welcomed to share memories of the entertainer. He is one of five confirmed victims from the fire.

Others chose to leave a message for Mike on an online dedication page, where nearly 200 tributes have been left.

He captured the hearts of Wellingtonians for around 30 years and was known for the smile he shared with passers-by.

In the 1980s he mowed lawns for the council but spent more time juggling after being made redundant.

In a sign of the impact Mike had on the lives of many - buskers, a taxi driver, a police officer, council worker, the Wellington Mayor, a supermarket worker, a building inspector and Black Power member have all turned up to pay their respects.

A council worker talked about how "it hit hard" when he heard Mike was beaten up last year, in an assault which left Mike in hospital.

A nightclub manager talked about how 'Mikey' always made time to teach anyone who wanted to juggle among the crowd.

Tennis balls, the ball of choice for Mike’s act, have been left on his coffin.

Michael Wahrlich's casket with tennis balls on top

Margaret, one of his sisters, said her brother was a "cool dude and a cute man, with good morals and lot’s of love to share through his juggling and chit chat". He learned to juggle with oranges and lemons, and had recently become a great-great uncle.

Another friend spoke of his love for people from all walks of life - "from business people to homeless people".

"To my dear friend, you’re going to be very sadly missed by a lot of people, but you’ll never be forgotten my friend."

Another friend simply said he was the best thing that happened to her.

A man who worked with Mike in the 80s said he had a heart of gold who wouldn't hurt a fly.


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