SAVE THE DATES
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Doors at 4:00 PM Saturday Nov. 14.Bar opens at 4:01 PM (two attendants have been engaged).Cook House flag goes up at 5:00 PM.At 6:00 PM
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Circus pitches its tent in park
UniverSoul showcases black performers in two high-energy hours.
By Jeff Davidson
Inquirer Staff Writer
She has a big name and a big job: Auntie Maggie Shirley Lee Mae Frances Upshaw Jenkins is taking the reins of this year's UniverSoul Circus as it brings "The World in One Ring" to Philadelphia.
Auntie is leading the circus in its return to Fairmount Park through Nov. 15 with contortionists, motorcycle daredevils, Caribbean limbo dancers, African elephants and more under one tent.
The circus was founded by Cedric Walker in 1994 to showcase black performers other than just singers and dancers. It started in the Atlanta Fulton County Stadium parking lot, and although Walker lost money on the event, he persisted in his vision.
"People from children and teenagers to parents and grandparents and great-grandparents have a great time," said Ben Johnson, the circus' director of operations. "It is one of very few places where the entire family can go and . . . has a good time."
During this year's show, Auntie, portrayed by comedian Patrice Lovely, and her nephew Lucky, played by Daniel Malatsi, invite the audience to attend the circus with them.
"The World in One Ring" then offers a roughly two-hour, high-energy and hip-hop-inspired show that is touring 30 cities. There are 12 acts with 75 performers from 11 countries plus elephants, tigers and dogs. The audience is encouraged to participate, which could lead to dancing on stage or joining in the main events.
As the circus marks its 16th year, Johnson says that the producers work to keep their ideas fresh.
"We have some new acts that haven't been seen before in Philadelphia as well as a lot of the favorite elements from years past like a lot of interaction with the audience," Johnson said. "We didn't lose any of the high energy or audience interaction over the years."
UniverSoul also focuses on supporting local causes and organizations. A portion of the proceeds from Sunday's shows will be donated to the local chapter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, called Sisters for the Cure, which raises money for the fight against breast cancer.
UniverSoul also donated tickets to local churches and groups, including the Philadelphia School District.
UniverSoul Circus, now through Nov. 15 at Fairmount Park near the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, 5201 Parkside Ave. Admission: $12, $10 for groups of 20 or more for weekday morning shows; $16.50-$28 for adults and $15-$26 for children for weekend and evening shows. Tickets can be purchased through www.ticketmaster.com and group tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-316-7439. For more information, go to www.universoulcircus.com.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Article published November 10, 2009
Pachyderms on parade in downtown ToledoAdults and children line Jefferson Avenue to watch six Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey elephants walk from the Toledo Amtrak station to the Lucas County Arena.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
DECADE ON BEHALF OF
The organization was prompted to lend a hand by two crossover members of the OABA Board who were able to convince the mostly carnival owner board that the strength of one business could very well serve the needs of the other. Thus, Bob Commerford representing his family’s traveling petting zoos, consisting of animals rides, replicated old time parade units drawn by one of his many Shetland pony hitches and a variety of exotic animals, got involved. Joining him was Wayne McCary, President and CEO of the Eastern States Exposition, one of America’s largest and most significant fairs, the Big E, who now Chairs the OABA. McCary and Commerford, good friends and soul mates in the rights of shows to use exotic, performing animals, assembled a base of financial support from showmen, principally members of the Circus Producers Association and some key circuses. Kristin Parra, daughter of Barbara Byrd has now joined the OABA’s board, when Bob stepped down, after serving for ten years. They formed a Circus Committee and retained two former Ringling executives, attorney Joan Galvin, who is our USDA consultant and Rodney Huey, who handles public relations and writes for the OABA’s ShowTime magazine.
Fund raising now became a matter of contributions of all sizes from current and past show people: Barbara Byrd, John Cuneo, John Pugh, Kay Rosaire, Monica Welde and many others. Circus Fans in large numbers contributed money and collectibles for raffles and auctions. Literally every fan event in the country featured an OABA Performing Circus Animal Fund event. These efforts were lead, and often conducted, by David Orr of Pennsylvania, “a circus fan on Steroids” also serving on the OABA’s Circus Committee. Orr at one point garnered over five thousand pro circus animal signatures and personally presented them in Washington to a member of the United States House of Representatives. Annual conventions of fan groups often present large checks to this OABA fund. The Big E with the help of its many vendors annually contributes several thousand dollars to the fund.
I joined the effort at Bob Commerford’s request about six years ago and attempted to structure the fund raising and organize the appeal. With the help of Milwaukee circus fan Duke Shumow, we have produced a series of circus animal lapel pins and are being sold by a team of agents, which Orr recruited. Assisting in getting the message to buy pins to help the cause out to the public, I appealed to all circus theme clubs, tents and periodicals and was successful in having our message reach nearly ten thousand circus friends. The pins sold well and prompted other donations.
Our new pin this year, a Zebra, has already sold over four hundred pins in only five months. With the money we have been able to afford good legal advice, knowledgeable animal and public relations counsel, and other components required in constructing a logical public response to the extremist’s opposition.
This year brings a new component as we align ourselves with circus interests throughout the entire world, with the 2008 formation of the International circus organization, The Federation Mondiale du Cirque.
Won’t you join us in this unique and worthy cause. To contribute to the Circus Fund, make your check payable to: “OABA Circus Fund” and send to OABA at 1035 S. Semoran Blvd, Suite 1045A, Winter Park, Florida 32792.