Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A circus full of surprises

March 28. 2013 4:07PM

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If you attended last year’s event, Shrine Circus manager Amy Oberst said, you may remember “the surprise.”

An aerialist known as “the ice princess” was hanging by her hair, so just about everyone in the audience would have been looking up.

That’s when the “snow” came down, adding to the fun and spectacle the Royal Hanneford Circus brought to the 109th Field Artillery Armory.

“I know there’s a surprise this year, too,” Oberst said, explaining that of course you’ll have to come to find out what it is.

She can say the circus — the 64th to be brought to Wilkes-Barre by the Shriners — will include trapeze artists, clowns, a high-wire act, motorcycle riders and all sorts of animals and their trainers, joined this year, “for the first time in a long time,” by a bear act.

It’s all designed to help people of all ages feel young at heart, she said.

And, if you didn’t already hear about this, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn you can watch an outdoor preview of the circus for free on Tuesday.

“A lot of moms come with kids in strollers,” Oberst said. “We’ll have 250 boxes of popcorn to give away and some novelties.”

The pubic is welcome to the preview, which will take place near the Millennium Circle on North River Street.

Organizers suggest downtown workers might want to pack a light meal and spend their lunch break at “Circus on the Common.”

“It should be a good hour of entertainment,” Oberst said.

The larger, three-ring show will be presented 11 times from Monday through April 6 at the Armory.

“It’s so rewarding when the lights go down and the music starts,” ringmaster Billy Martin said. “I know what’s in store for children of all ages. I can feel their excitement.”

Martin grew up in Olean, N.Y., where he would “drag my parents to see every circus I could.”

Other circus performers have grown up with traveling shows and are the third and fourth generations of their families to perform.

The Hannefords, according to the circus website, trace their family’s entertainment history to one Edwin Hanneford, a foot juggler who performed on London street concerns and at fairs. In 1778 he was summoned to perform before King George III in a contest to determine “the best juggler in England,” but the king was “preoccupied with other matters during the competition” and “never delivered a verdict.”


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