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Friday, June 1, 2012




Shrine Circus: Family affair 






Photo by Kaycee Anderson
Jeffrey the Clown 
by The North Platte Bulletin - 
5/31/2012 
A few sprinkles didn't damper the spirit at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds Thursday afternoon. The circus was in town. 
The show began with the dog act and Jeffrey Plunkett followed with an entertaining clown act, driving in with an old car. The car quit in the ring. Jeffery danced around, encouraging the crowd to clap and stomp their feet. After the roar died down, Jeffery tinkered with the engine and pulled a skunk out from under the hood. He tried lots of things to start the car, with lots of comical results.
A few raindrops fell, but Jeffrey’s antics and the crowd’s laughter seemed to be what as needed to chase the dark clouds away and bring the sun. 
Then came beautiful women twirling hula hoops followed by miniature horses.
The Tehama Shrine Circus, now 53-years-old, performed twice in North Platte Thursday, at 2 p.m. and at 6 p.m. 




Photo by Kaycee Anderson
James Pluckett works the horses.
Organizer Bob Peal from North Platte's Tehama Shriners said they try to bring the circus to North Platte as early in the spring as they can. The circus has a busy route.On Wednesday it was in McCook and will be in Sidney on Friday. 
The Shriners were happy with attendance – nearly 550 – especially considering that the show started under dark clouds and a few sprinkles.
Peal said this is the North Platte Shriner’s primary fund raiser of the year, next to selling Vidalia onions, which they do each fall. Peal is also looking forward to the next Shriner event, riding mini-cars (puddle jumpers) in the Nebraskaland Days parade. 
Before the excitement started, the cotton candy stand attracted a lot of attention, as Jeffrey the Clown was sold the candy. Samuel and Rebekah Troshnski and step-sister Rachel Simonson of Missouri, all with sticks of cotton candy, were excited to be there. This is their first circus in North Platte, as they just moved here from Columbia, Mo. 
But this was the fourth year Rachel, Maddie and Sydney Hatch, ages 10-6, of North Platte attended. Their friends Jill Dombrowski and Terry Fashching look forward to bringing them. All three children got their faces painted and were excited to see the performances.




Photo by Kaycee Anderson
Jairo Ojeda walks the dog 
Performing in this circus is a family tradition, as much or more than attending. 
James Plunkett is the owner and ringmaster. His brother Jeffrey is the clown. 
They were born in Dickens and now live in Maybank, Texas. Their grandfather Ed Plunkett began singing and dancing in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show when he was only six-years-old, Jeffery said. 
His father Marlin Plunkett was born in a storm cellar in 1928 and also started performing as a child. Plunkett said nearly everyone in the family followed in grandfather Ed's footprint and still perform in circuses around the United States. 
The family left the Dickens area and moved to Texas around the time World War II began. They stopped performing to help in the war effort. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, five uncles went down to enlist. One was too young but four served during the war. Grandpa Ed worked in San Antonia in an airplane factory. 
In the mid-50s, 11 members of the family formed the Plunkett Stage Show. Jeffery said it was a three-act repertory show that performed on three days a week, three performances a day. 
Shrine circus crewmembers and performers Daniel Rodriguez and Angelo Toscano, both from Las Vegas, also come from generations of circus performers and both started performing when they were six-years-old. Rodriguez is from Columbia and Toscano is from Argentina.


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Photo by Kaycee Anderson
Jairo Ojeda, Ringmaster
Ringmaster Jairo Ojeda of Dallas is 21, and along with his two sisters and one brother, they are fifth-generation circus performers. 


The circus begins touring each year in February and takes the summer and winter months off. In September they start again, touring for six weeks in the southeastern states.

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