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World Circus in the US and Canada

Gray Matters – From One Circus to Another


FIGHT EEHV!
Fighting the deadly elephant virus, EEHV, is important to us.  When our elephants make artwork and participate in fundraisers the donations go to the International Elephant Foundation (IEF), www.elephantconservation.org.  IEF then distributes the money among the EEHV projects where it is needed most.  Read below to see how your contributions are helping.

Have Trunk Will Travel is very proud  to be one of the charter members of the EEHV Consortium at the National Elephant Herpesvirus Laboratory and a member of the EEHV Advisory Group.  We are grateful to all the labs, researchers, veterinarians and technicians who fight this battle to help elephants.  Kari and Gary Johnson are especially grateful to those of you whose donations fund their good work.

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From the Center Ring
Rodney Huey
April, 2014

Winter’s “polar express” that gave way to a new “polar vortex” may finally be subsiding this month, albeit leaving behind a battered path from the West Coast to the Northeast. Several circus performances had to be cancelled last month due to the inclement weather, but by and large “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night”  kept true circus lovers away from America’s Big Top experience.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Legends, Built to Amaze and Super Circus Heroes plied their way through a stormy March toward major East Coast openings in April; the Big Apple Circus is hunkered down in Boston this month; while Universoul treks cross-town from the Bronx to Brooklyn. Coles Bros. Circus continues it northerly heading for its annual New York-area openings, and Circus Vargas stays warm and dry in southern California.

Each spring two circus-related events occur near Altoona, Pennsylvania. First, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey train passes around the famed and picturesque “horseshoe bend” on the Norfolk Southern Railway’s Pittsburgh Line. The second is the Altoona Circus Bonanza hosted by the Forepaugh-Barry “Grandma” Lubin Circus Fans Association Tent No. 2 in nearby Duncanville. This year, Lubin himself will be the guest of honor and entertain CFA fans from Pennsylvania and surrounding states.

Springtime 2014 also means World Circus Day observances worldwide. Created and hosted by the Monte-Carlo-based Federation Mondiale du Cirque, WCD-related celebrations will begin on March 20 – UN’s International Day of Happiness – and culminate with the Fifth Annual World Circus Day slated for Saturday, April 19.

Showing your true circus colors on World Circus Day requires only four simple steps (an easy task for any reasonable circus fan!): 1. plan any circus-related event; 2 register it at www.circusfederation.org/register_wcd_event; 3. build a human pyramid with your friends and take a group “selfie”; 4. upload your digital photo at www.circusfederation.org/upload_wcd_photos to become part of the World’s Longest Digital “Pyramid of Happiness.” Additionally, amateur and professional photogs can enter their favorite circus photos into this year’s World Circus Photo Contest that ends on World Circus Day (see Photo Contest on the Federation’s website).

Giving it the ol’ college try are student circus performers with Florida State University’s Flying High Circus and Illinois State University’s Gamma Phi Circus. Flying High will open its Annual Home Series Performances at the Haskins Circus Complex on April 3; and Gamma Phi will be presenting its Spring Show in the Redbird Arena on April 11-12.

The Circus Harmony youth group will open its new Flying Trapeze Center this month at St. Louis’ Union Station train depot and marketplace. According to Circus Harmony founder Jessica Hentoff, the flying trapeze center will serve as a place for “recreational flying and will also help fund our social circus programs.” Funds for the new center were generated through the Youthbridge Social Enterprise and Innovation Competition (SEIC), the Regional Arts Council and Daughters of Charity Foundations of St. Louis.

Theatrical production veteran Scott Zeiger has been named president and managing director of Cirque du Soleil’s new Cirque Theatrical Division. Zieger, Clear Channel alum and co-founder of BASE Entertainment, has a long history of presenting theatrical successes in Las Vegas, including a six-year run of “Phantom” and “Rock of Ages” at the Venetian, “Jersey Boys” at Paris and “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace. His primary responsibility will be to create “Broadway-type shows” with traditional “book, lyrics and definitive storylines” designed to “play anywhere in the world.” Cirque Theatrical will be based in New York City.

According to Ben Bromley of Capital Newspapers, Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin is trying to free up storage space by culling its collection and “finding new homes for items that don’t fit” CWM’s criteria. Proceeds will be used “toward the restoration and acquisition of Circus World artifacts and archival materials.” Since CWM boasts one of the world’s largest historical circus archives anywhere, that will be one big yard sale!

Glen Kohlberger, president of Clowns of America International, recently told Natalie Musumeci of the New York Daily News that there is a worldwide shortage of clowns. Kohlberger based his observation on the fact that CAI’s membership “has plummeted since 2006.” Likewise, membership in the World Clown Association confirms a drop in its membership from 3,500 to 2,500 members since 2004. The reason for the decline, at least according Kohlberger, is that older clowns are dying off while young people have little interest in pursuing professional clowning as a career.

However, Kohlberger’s reasoning doesn’t ring true with David Kiser, Ringling’s Director of Talent and former clown himself. The Greatest Show on Earth recently held clown auditions during its Brooklyn run last month at the Barclay’s Center. Ringling press material claims that it receives 4000 applications for Clown Alley each year, and selects about 15 new clowns for its traveling units.

The old Circus Arena in Venice, Florida is looking a little barren since its roof and skin was removed last fall, leaving only its steel skeletal framework. City fathers are still undecided about what to do with the former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Winter Quarters site. For a unique “drone’s-eye tour” through the defunct building via Chuck Sley’s remote model helicopter ride, see www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0kf8EowTNw.

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia highlighted some of the world’s best skiers, snowboarders, bobsledders and skaters. The opulent Closing Ceremonies included a “Magic of the Circus” segment as a tribute to Russia’s great circus history with hundreds of Russian performers. But according to reliable circus enthusiasts, NBC-TV edited out complete segments of the circus production for its prime-time American coverage – a shame for circus fans worldwide.

It looks like you just can’t keep a good elephant down. Remember Carol, the 39-year-old Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey performing pachyderm that was shot in a drive-by in Tupelo, Mississippi last April? Well, she’s back on the road more fit than ever after her full recovery at a Ringling facility near Springfield, Missouri. Welcome back, Carol!