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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kids get in on the fun at Circus Gatti


Photo by Ron Longwell, Ron Longwell (ronlongwell.com)

Ron Longwell/Special to the Reporter-NewsAn offer to let kids ride an elephant at Circus Gatti was quickly accepted by several youngsters Saturday at the Taylor County Expo Center.

By Carl Kieke Abilene Reporter-News

February 25, 2012

Getting close to the seven-foot-long Columbian red tail boa constrictor at Circus Gatti likely never entered Zachary Chandos' mind — until the opportunity to get a photo with the snake was announced at intermission of the circus show at the Taylor County Expo Center on Saturday.
"I just wanted to do it. I thought it would be cool," the 11-year-old Bassetti Elementary student said. And to classmates who wouldn't dare do such a thing, Zachary said would laugh and call them scaredy-cats.
For the more squeamish, milder activities were available at intermission, such as face-painting and elephant rides. Of course, there is a slight scare factor in climbing onto an animal so big you need a ladder.
"Bumpy," was the one-word description by 7-year-old Joslin Power of Abilene. Her friend Lara Reeves said, "Exciting."
Brandi Power, Joslin's mother, said they decided to do it as soon as it was announced.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I knew it was something that they would surely remember," she said.
In one family, the 5-year-old son was impressed by the bikers while the 7-year-old daughter preferred the ponies. The youngest, 2, decided when the lights went down that "it was time to go."
Emily Scott and Tadum Johnson, both of Buffalo Gap, were wowed by the dancing and the bikers' performances. Tadum said she would love to work in a circus, probably as one of the young women who twirled and swung around ropes hanging from the rigging.


Photo by Ron Longwell, Ron Longwell (ronlongwell.com) Ron Longwell/Special to the Reporter-News

Clown Leo Acton entertains the audience at a Circus Gatti performance at the Taylor County Expo Center on Saturday.While he's probably not much of a twirler, Leo Acton can likely relate.
Acton, who bills himself as "the world's furriest funny man," got into circus work as a 19-year-old.
His trademark is a heavy mutton chop beard that ends about halfway down the jawline on both sides. The beard was his wife's idea, Acton said.
"As ridiculous as it looks, there's a lot of maintenance, a lot of clipping, snipping and hair spray," the veteran clown said. "I have a strange appearance, so I get an initial shock or initial reaction. But when people see me, they almost always love me."
He got into circus work in 1998 when he auditioned for and was accepted by Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey clown college. This is his third year with Circus Gatti.
"I'm running from the law," he said of his choice of the circus life — then quickly laughed the answer off in favor of a more serious reply.
"The circus is an amazing American tradition of family entertainment," he said. "It's a great way to see our country and bring wholesome entertainment to everybody."

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