2007-06-09 / Front Page

Big top! Fire association brings circus to town

Story & Photos by Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE- The circus came to town May 30, bringing more than 1,000 people to Buckeye Lake. The Kelly Miller Circus event was sponsored by the Buckeye Lake Firefighters Association. This was the second time the association welcomed the event to Buckeye Lake.

"Everyone loved it. There were lots of smiles," said Buckeye Lake Firefighter Toby Miller, who helped to coordinate the event. Included in those smiles were nearly 400 students from Hebron Elementary who came to the circus site, behind Albanese's Food Gallery, early in the morning to watch a full grown elephant help raise the circus' gigantic tent.

Miller said the association uses the circus to help raise money for itself, but also give something back to the community. "It's more fun than a raffle ticket," he said. "It's great for the kids. You really get something for your money."

According to the Kelly Miller Circus web site, the circus was founded in 1938 by Obert Miller and his sons, Kelly and Dory, the Al G. Kelly Miller Brothers Circus, now known simply as Kelly Miller, and has entertained millions of American and Canadian citizens.

From 1984 through 2006, David Rawls, president and third generation circus performer, directed the Kelly-Miller Circus. Earlier this year, another exciting chapter in the circus' history began when Rawls passed the reigns to John Ringling North II. North's great uncles were the famous Ringling Brothers, his grandmother, their only sister. Born into this most famous of circus families, John grew up with the "Greatest Show on Earth", learning circus operation from his father Henry Ringling North, and Uncle John Ringling North.

The show travels on a fleet of 25 vehicles and requires an area of some 90,000 square feet to set up. The circus big top, imported from Italy, has a seating capacity of 1500 and is made of waterproof vinyl. The tent is supported by more than a quarter of a mile of heavy gauge aluminum tubing as well as several miles of rope, steel cable and chain.

Miller said the circus may be back in two years.

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