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Saturday, August 28, 2010

100 YEARS AGO, EVERETT, WASHINGTON

When the circus came to Everett ... in 1910
By Debra Smith, Herald Writer
Saturday,August 28, 2010

EVERETT — Thousands of families are expected to line up in downtown today to watch a traveling circus billed as “The Greatest Show on Earth.”
So, too, did folks who lived here 100 years ago.
Historian David Dilgard unearthed a playbill for Barnum & Bailey's visit to Everett on Aug. 17, 1910.
A century ago, Everett was a frontier town, a clearing in a dense wilderness populated mainly with loggers and laborers.
The circus playbill is a window into what entertained Everett residents then and how much — or maybe how little — things have changed.
Back then, the circus chugged its way through the wilderness to Everett on the train, all the animals and gear packed into 85 double-length railroad cars. The playbill boasted the Barnum & Bailey operation had 1,280 people, 700 horses and “100 cages and dens of wild animals.”
Newspaper accounts from The Everett Daily Herald also list camels, open cages of lions, tigers, and the only baby giraffe born in America at the time. There was also a “manlike” bicycle-riding chimpanzee named Charley and bareback riding seals.
Top-billed attractions included Jupiter the Balloon Horse, which the reporter described as “a beautiful Arabian Stallion” that stands on a platform attached to a balloon and floats to the top of the tent dome. At the top, Roman candles bordering the platform were ignited around the horse. Amid it all, “Jupiter stands as though cut from marble,” the reporter wrote.
The circus also claimed to have 60 of the greatest riders in the world, 60 acrobats and 50 clowns.
One featured act included a man called Desperado who leapt from the top of the trapeze onto an elevated ramp.
Dilgard, who was tickled to share the find, said the circus set up its big tent at what used to be Robbins Park, the local baseball field. The grandstand backed onto Hewitt Avenue in the spot today occupied by Lowe's Home Improvement store.
Newspaper accounts describe the hubbub the traveling menagerie made when it wheeled into town.
Circus workers quickly transformed Robbins Park early on the morning of Aug. 17, 1910, into a city of white tents with streaming banners.
The reporter noted that there were many homes in the city where “the boys were either late to breakfast or did not show up for the meal.”
At 10 a.m., the circus paraded through town, drawing large crowds of families who wanted to see a display that included three herds of elephants, two Roman racing chariots, military floats and its own mounted heralds and trumpeters.
Even the news reporter, part of a usually skeptical camp, wrote this about the reaction of Everett folks at the circus: “No larger or better pleased crowd ever assembled.”

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