by Jeff Saunders | Reporter
Nordonia Hills -- This August marks a dozen years in a row that the Nordonia Hills Kiwanis Club is bringing the Kelly Miller Circus to the area.
The circus will perform two shows on the grounds of the Northfield Village Retirement Community Aug. 3. Performances are at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. and as in past years, the public is invited to come out and watch an elephant raise the Big Top at about 9 a.m. Animals will also be on view then.
"The circus is fantastic," said Bonnie Dusek, circus coordinator for the club. "If they weren't, we wouldn't have been with them for 12 years."
Acts that the Oklahoma-based circus are bringing this year include:
* The Ponderous Pachyderms featuring Kelly Miller's three Asian elephants Lisa, Tracy and Becky.
* The Silk Road Camels, which also includes a zebra and is lead by animal expert Mike Rice.
* Penelope and Her Puppies of Penzance in a pirate-themed act.
* Juggler Raul Olivares.
* Trapeze team Duo Delara.
* Ryan Holder and his tigers.
* The Enchanting Miss Rebecca, a trapeze artist who appeared in the 2011 Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson circus film "Water for Elephants."
* Clown Alley with clowns Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs.
* The Fusco Gauchos, Argentineans who combine acrobatics, juggling, dance and drums.
* Fridman Torales, an aerobat from Peru.
* Tony the Clown, who performs magic in both the ring and in the audience.
The Kiwanis club receives a portion of revenue from the two shows, money that the club then uses to support local causes that at least in part benefit youth and children. These include $500 scholarships the club awards to two graduating Nordonia High School seniors, donations to the Emergency Assistance Center in the village, and adopting a family in need at Christmas. The club is also providing $200 each to four area teenagers to attend Kiwanis Key Leader, a weekend leadership education program, sponsoring and participating in American Red Cross blood drives, and taking part in the Ohio District Kiwanis' First lady's project, which collects items for children removed from their homes by social service agencies.
The money from the circus, said Dusek, has become vital to the club's efforts.
"It would be hard for us without it because we're a small group. We have other fundraisers, but they're small," she said.
Last year, the club received about $3,600, which was at least $500 above what the club has gotten in the past. Dusek attributed at least part of this increase to the circus moving from Sagamore Hills Township Park to the more visible Northfield Park in the village.
"I think it was because we moved and had some walk-ins," said Dusek.
The club felt it needed to find a new location this year, also in a well-trafficked area, because of uncertainties over when construction would begin on a planned $275-million gaming and entertainment complex at the race track. Dusek said a visiting member of a Kiwanis Club in Columbus was able to help secure the new spot because he does marketing for the retirement community.
Dusek also credited Roy Meadows, founder and chief executive officer of Foremost Safety Solutions, Inc. in Macedonia, for providing the donation of a banner to be set up at the retirement community and signs to post around town publicizing the circus.
Kelly Miller Circus was founded in 1938. This year, it is traveling nearly 10,000 miles and making stops in more than 200 cities and towns around North America in a season that stretches from March through October.