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Under the Big Top

July 17, 2012
By JANICE R. KIASKI - Community editor, Herald-Star (community@heraldstaronline.com) , The Herald-Star

I'm 54 and have never been to a circus. My daughter is 23 and has never been to a circus, either.

So when the Big Top came to town July 9 for two shows as a fundraising event organized by the Grand Theater Restoration Project, off we went on what was yet another "staycation" activity for yours truly that came on the heels of a day trip to Amish country where I put a hurting on Better Half's wallet.

Here was this huge tent erected in a part of the parking lot at the Fort Steuben Mall where nearby was a midway area with some concessions, rides and a petting zoo that included llamas endearing themselves to most anyone with some food to share.

Article Photos

High wire routines entertain spectators.

Plenty of people were taking advantage of their chance to ride a camel or an elephant - or get their picture taken with one - but I was too lazy to stand in line and figured I do enough riding as it is, even if it is a horse that's built a little lower to the ground, thank you.

Francesca Carinci, event chair, donned her ringmaster outfit for the occasion and rode in on an elephant as the second show began. She said the afternoon show, typically a run-through rehearsal, turned out to be one of the circus' biggest shows in its travels.

All in all, they figure a couple thousand people attended both shows that included a variety of animal acts and high-wire routines that make a person like me happy to be on the ground looking up.

The contortionist guy was limber to say the least. He moved his body in ways you'd never think possible. When he was done, I took a couple Aleves on his behalf, because my muscles hurt just from watching.

I don't know what the measurements were for the space the Big Top took up, but I thought to myself, what a production that must be to put all that up with all the lights and sound equipment and such.

Probably one of the most enjoyable aspects of the circus for me was listening to a couple of little girls sitting behind me who were oohing, aahing and squealing with delight throughout different parts of the performance. There's nothing quite like the genuine laughter of a child amused by something, in this case the very funny antics of Alex the King of Circus Comedy or the dog tricks segment or the high wire acts.

Before the evening show got under way, Scott Dressel, chairman of the restoration project, said the coolest thing literally that day was when the fire department came and hosed off the elephants, giving them a nice little bath.

The money generated from this fundraiser, according to Dressel, finishes off the roof on the building adjoining the theater, which has an elevator. Anything beyond that goes toward utility expenses in the Grand from now to Christmas.

Next up is hopefully a Christmas open house in the theater lobby on the same day as Steubenville's Light-Up Night.

The Grand Theater Restoration Project supporters want to keep having entertainment-oriented fundraisers in light of the fact that the ultimate goal is to restore the theater and have the South Fourth Street facility become a performing arts center.

If they ever have a circus come back, however, Dressel said it will be one without animals and lots more entertainment acts.

Carinci and Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci both applauded the Fort Steuben Mall for its cooperation and for being so accommodating to having the circus set up there.

The circus being in town constituted an exciting day for the community, according to Mucci.

 
 

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