Last night as I was driving home, I passed by Parkway Plaza and noticed a red and white circus tent set up in the parking lot. Since we've never taken my son to a circus before, I asked him if he would want to go and without pause, he answered, "Yes!"
When we got home, I figured it would be easy enough to check the Internet for ticket information, but much to my surprise, I couldn't find any mention of it on the event listings of several major local web sites and not even on the hosting Westfield site.
|The Big Top nestled in the mall parking lot|
I guess using the tent itself as advertisement was good enough since it worked for my family. After all, here we are a day after first spotting the tent, and we now have fun memories to share of an evening spent at the circus.
|Our view of the tent as we waited at a signal to enter the mall parking lot.|
|The circus truck dons a clown with a sombrero.|
|Our tickets and free child coupon|
|I've seen these set-ups for pony rides before, but not for llama rides.|
Before I go on, I will quickly get my main criticism for the show out of the way. I know that animal rights advocates often protest circuses, and while watching the show, I can kind of understand why. The llama rides out front weren't even the problem. It was the animal-taming segment of the show that made me cringe and wince.
A "tamer" brought out an adult and young camel to parade around the ring. He wanted them to do various tricks such as step up on the side of the ring and also kneel down before him. Perhaps it was just for show effect, but the cracking of his whip on the ground was unsettling. My son whispered to me, "That is a bad man." I asked him why and he said, "They [the camels] don't like him."
My son and I weren't the only ones who seemed to feel this way since the audience barely applauded at the act's end, when the tamer made the camels walk submissively out of the ring on their "elbows." The poor camels looked so uncomfortable doing this, but the cracking whip made them scurry along the best they could. Fortunately, other than a short llama-taming stint that followed the camels, there were no other live animals that had to perform in the show.
|The live performers were a joy to watch.|
Some of the feats that were displayed were downright impressive. One of our favorite segments was the metal ball shown in the picture below. I've seen a single motorcyclist ride in one of these types of balls in the past, but in this show, they added a second motorcyclist into the mix. And, as a grand finale, they added a third! I worry about my son wanting to ride a motorcycle at all in the future--I can't imagine how I could ever handle him doing stunts like this.
|Three motorcyclists ended up riding in this ball together at the same time!|
Although it is a little hard to make out, the picture above also shows an object suspended above the ball. This object is a large metal airplane that was used in the final act. While I had wondered if the plane would feature someone riding in it, this was not the case. Instead, it sat on one end of a two-blade propeller-like set-up. The prop plane "flew" around the circle, while opposite it, a man and woman dangled and performed strength-based acrobatics. Try to imagine yourself hanging from high up and rotating in fast-moving circles, all while doing tricks like using only your feet to hold yourself upside down from a bar...and there is no safety net. What impressive talent!
Another potential criticism of the circus is the way that they tried to monetize everything. For instance, from the moment we entered the tent, they were heavily pushing "Star Wars" light sabers over the loud speaker.
I was honestly surprised that my son maturely accepted the fact that we wouldn't buy him any of the toys that were being pushed since the announcer made continuous and impressively convincing pitches, playing upon every tactic possible, "Let's see everyone who has a light saber wave it around!" How left out does a kid feel upon hearing this over and over and seeing a growing number of kids waving swords of flashing light all around them?
In between one set of acts, we were told that today was our "lucky day," because there were balloons "for every kid in the room"...well, for every kid with $3 we soon found out. During intermission, there was face painting and photo opportunities with animals for another fee, and while the constant monetizing almost turned us off, we couldn't get upset in the end, because the workers were all so hardworking.
|Our souvenir from the circus! (Notice a couple of light sabers behind us.)|
As the circus truly was a small operation, we started to notice that the guy who had taken our ticket at the door was also one of the motorcyclists. We spotted the featured hula hooper working the snack cart during intermission and the rag doll clown walking the aisles selling toys in between acts. The juggler talent had to rush off stage only to juggle other duties--they all did. Seeing them work so hard was admirable and thus, we didn't feel bad when we did end up buying a souvenir of the night: a family photo of us in our seats.
|On the back of our souvenir photo.|
The back of our souvenir photo featured a signature quote that the Master of Ceremonies also announced at the end of the show. As he sent us off, he wished us that all our days be "circus days." But honestly, if this would mean we'd have to work as hard as the Atayde Brothers performers, I don't know if I could survive.
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