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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Big thrills under the big top in Vineland


May. 17, 2011

Written byKRISTI FUNDERBURK Staff Writer, Vineland Daily Journal

VINELAND -- A large asphalt lot usually reserved for weekend flea markets was transformed Monday to thrill both the young and young at heart.
The bright red-and-yellow big top rose at the back of the U-Sell Flea Market property on South Delsea Drive as Coles Bros. Circus of the Stars returned to town. Two performances were held Monday before huge crowds. The final shows are tonight at 5 and 8 p.m.The big top can seat 2,200 people, marketing director Debra Houston said, and that capacity was tested Monday."This is going to be four awesome shows," she said, eyeing the long line of people waiting to buy tickets as the 5 p.m. show opened.

"We might not sell out, but it'll be close.

"Melisa Burnett of Millville was at the back of the line with her two daughters, Jacqueline Burnett, 8, and Mallorie Ferrigno, 18. It wasn't long before another 20 people filed in behind her.But Burnett didn't hesitate to say the show is one worth waiting for. Plus, this was Jacqueline's first trip to the circus."It's very exciting," she said. "We don't normally have stuff like that. It's just fun.

"Cole Bros. Circus has brought clowns, performers and animals to Vineland since 1964 as a fundraiser for Vineland's Volunteer Fire Company 2, located on East Sherman Avenue."It's our only fundraiser, but it's more than a fundraiser. It's fun, and it gets families out," said Station 2 Capt. Ryan Feaster, chairman of the fundraising committee.Chris Connors, ringmaster for the past 10 years, said fans love the "one-of-a-kind" liberty act in which a llama, camel, giraffe horse, miniature horses and poodles perform in the ring without guides.

They also enjoy the "cartoon poodles" -- two poodles in costumes that do tricks and ride around in a pink car, he said.

Before they enter the big top, visitors get to see the two female Asian elephants, each donning red saddles for pre-show rides.

The circus visits Vineland annually as part of an East Coast tour that includes about 1,000 performances in all.

Millville resident John Lore brought his 4-year-old granddaughter Rebecca Lore to see the elephants as they waited for his wife, Marianne, to arrive for the show."This is one of her birthday presents," Lore said as Rebecca carefully watched the giant creatures saunter by. "I brought her last year and she liked it, and she's been talking about it all year.

"Connors said the animals are one of the biggest hits for all ages."People came here as kids," he said, "and now they're bringing their kids."

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