2014 Convention



Friday, October 1, 2010

Giant's Fish Camp gets its boot back

The original oversized boot, which was a Gibsonton landmark, went missing in 2007.

The new memorial at Giant's Fish Camp in Gibsonton was unveiled today. It commemorates the oversized boot that was a Gibsonton landmark for more than 40 years.
By JOHN CEBALLOS South Shore News & Tribune
Published: September 29, 2010 FROM: WWW.TAMPABAYONLINE.COM
GIBSONTON - A distinctive piece of footwear welcomed visitors to Gibsonton for more than 40 years.
"We lived on the other side of town, but it was the Giant's Camp and that boot that symbolized home," said Carol Phillips, historian for the Concerned Citizens of Gibsonton.
Today, a new memorial was unveiled in honor of the Tomaini family, who lived here for decades and brought the area national recognition.
The area, known as a haven for circus and carnival performers, was the home of Al and Jeanie Tomaini starting in 1941. That year, the couple bought a 3.1-acre site on an inlet just south of the Alafia River on U.S. 41. It eventually featured fishing cabins and a restaurant. The site came to be known as Giant's Fish Camp.
Al, who stood 8 feet, 4 inches, was known as "The Giant." Born legless, Jeanie was 2 feet, 6 inches, and called "The Half Girl." The Tomainis became the "World's Strangest Married Couple."
One day, Al brought home a 35-inch-tall boot with a 25-inch sole as a souvenir.
Shortly after Al's death at age 50 in 1962, Jeanie placed the boot outside their home as a memorial. The boot became a Gibsonton landmark throughout the years, with kids fishing Halloween candy out of the shoe, and tourists from across the country posing with the oversize footwear.Jim Johnson of Mosaic presents Tina Tomaini with a framed remnant of her grandfather Al's original boot during Wednesday's dedication ceremony.
"The amazing thing is that, because of their profession and their accomplishments, people across the world knew who they were," said Phillips, a former wolf trainer. "It wasn't just a Gibsonton landmark."
Jeanie died in 1999 at age 82. The remaining Tomaini family members sold the property to Mosaic, a phosphate fertilizer company, in 2007. Shortly thereafter, the boot went missing.
Mosaic's planned restoration of the camp included cleaning up the site, installing new fences, building a welcome sign and clearing out all but one of the cabins.
Two of those cabins were obtained by the Ruskin Community Development Foundation and transported to Camp Bayou, where they will be used as educational facilities, while the rest had fallen into disrepair.
The remaining cabin on the Giant's Fish Camp site was moved closer to the highway.
The citizens group had a $6,000 fund for highway beautification and eventually decided to apply the money toward replacing the boot by creating a memorial.
All that was needed was a place, so Phillips and the group collaborated with Mosaic.
"We are pleased to help extend the storied heritage of Gibsonton," said Larry Simpson, manager of Mosaic's Riverview manufacturing facility, which is adjacent to the site. "After seeing all the Tomaini family has done for the community, we realize the historical significance of this property."
In May, the county approved a variance that allowed for the building of the memorial in full view of U.S. 41.
A crowd of about 60, which included Mosaic officials and members of the Tomaini family, were on hand for the unveiling.
The replica, made from composite material, sits atop an 8-foot-4-inch granite base.
Tina Tomaini, Al and Jeanie's granddaughter, was at the unveiling and accepted a framed remnant from Al's original boot.
"This is very emotional for me — there are so many landmarks on this property that people don't even know about," Tina said. "I'm very proud that there is a dedication to my grandparents.
"They deserve it and they had a lot of love for this community."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tagan Jack Garcia, 5, waves as the Challenger 3985 steam locomotive pulls the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus train away from the Greeley Train Depot on Tuesday morning. The circus will be in Denver from Thursday through Oct. 10.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Historic locomotive chugs through Weld County
By Mike Peters
They came early Tuesday morning to the tracks, waiting for the event to start, watching for the steam cloud in the distance, listening for the blast of the whistle.
It was Locomotive No. 3985, Union Pacific's largest steam locomotive, and it was pulling the 61-car Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus train, and passing through Weld County on Tuesday from Speer, Wyo., to Denver.
At one point a girl shouted: “It's coming!” Unfortunately, she was a little early. The train arrived about 30 minutes later.
For Evelyn Fletcher of Greeley, it was reminiscent of the time many years ago when her father took her to see the first diesel train come through the county.
“We had all steam trains until then,” Fletcher said, “and dad took us to see the new train as it came through Kersey.”
Coincidentally, the train stopped Tuesday near the Greeley Train Museum, and also just blocks from an area once known as “Circus Block.” That block was purchased in the late 1800s by P.T. Barnum, so his circus would always have a place to set up the circus tent in Greeley.
Many of the train watchers were children, whose parents took them out of school for an hour to see the historic train.
At the downtown Greeley Train Depot, Richard Laster was with his son, 5-year-old Ricky, who said he likes trains.
“He stayed home from school this morning,” Laster said. “We explained to his teacher and she agreed it would be a good experience for him.”
Melissa Long had four of her five children at the downtown train depot to see the train.
“I saw it the last time it came through,” Long said, “and we wanted the kids to see it this time. We're using this as a field trip for home schooling.”
Other kids were there for various reasons. Brenna Snell, 3, covered her ears when the train arrived, because, according to her mother, Brenna “loves trains, hates loud noises.” Eight-year-old Seth Abe was there early to place five pennies on the tracks, later getting the souvenirs of flattened pennies from the circus train.
When the train stopped in Greeley, the circus ringmaster and some clowns got off a passenger car to greet the crowd.
All along the tracks, people gathered the length of Weld County, taking photos from overpasses, on bridges, at every intersection and crossing. At the depot in La Salle, dozens of people gathered to watch the historic train pass through.
The journey through Weld County was the beginning of the trip for the circus train, which will travel through six states and 2,200 miles to Gorham, Ill., and Sedalia, Mo., for those communities' special celebrations.
Circus is in town this week
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Lewis & Clark Circus will be in Roanoke on Thursday, Sept. 30, and Friday, Oct. 1, on U.S. 431 across from the skating rink.
Show times are at 5 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at show time. Ages 14 and under get in free with a parent. Tickets are available at Roanoke City Hall, Dollar General, La Herradura Restaurant, and Ace Hardware or from any reserve police officer.
The fun zone opens one hour prior to show time. Come see the clowns, big cats and the petting zoo.
Lewis and Clark Circus is a one-ring European-style circus that features traditional circus acts, such as high-flying trapeze artists, amazing acrobats, zany clowns and liberty animal acts, including horses and camels. The midway offers parents and children the chance to interact with the animals inside the petting zoo. As an added feature, camel rides and pony rides are offered for a small fee to children to may not have the chance to experience this once-in-a-lifetime thrill.
The hour and a half performance takes place under a big tent, approximately 100 feet long and 70 feet wide with yellow and red stripes and matching sidewalls. The tent seats about 900 patrons on seven individual sections of bleachers that are strategically placed for the best viewing of the action going on in the center ring.from: The Randolph, AL Leader

New Sailor Circus Arena roof nearly complete

Sep 28, 2010
SARASOTA - A new roof for the Sailor Circus Arena is just days away from completion. The old fabric roof was removed in May, and a new insulated metal roof was installed over the summer.
The $1.2 million project will give the student performers of the circus, and the people who come to see their shows, a much more comfortable environment than in years past.
Most of that money was raised through donations. "We had a lot of grass roots, a lot of donations came in over the years and we wanted to show them how much we appreciated it; and just to put something up, so when they come back to the shows now they can see we care about them, we care about what they've donated and it's all about the kids. These kids appreciate it, they're doing great practicing outside just like the old days, now we can get them back inside this arena and they can showcase their talents," says Deputy John Cox, Police Athletic League director.
This is the 62nd year of the Sailor Circus. All of its performers are Sarasota County students from 4th grade through 12th.
And those students are looking forward to practicing indoors again. "And it seems like they get here right after school and within an hour those afternoon rain showers have been coming in, so we're excited this week to get them back practicing in the arena, on the high wire, the flying trapeze and all the jugglers and acrobats and our clowns and they're getting ready for our performances in December," says PAL program coordinator Joan Leonard.
The Sarasota Sailor Circus performs in December and again in the spring. If you'd like to learn more about the Sailor Circus or want ticket information for their upcoming performances, visit


The Circus is coming to town!
Redwood City is proud to welcome, Zoppé, An Italian Family Circus from October 15th through October 24th for spectacular two-hour performances that will enthrall the entire family!
The Circus tent will be set up next to the Downtown Library at 1044 Middlefield Road in Redwood City and will host matinee and evening performances.
In addition, on October 14th, the Zoppé Circus is offering a rare opportunity, Dinner and a Circus! Get up-close and personal with the family and their new son, as they prepare for their two-week run in Redwood City under their new, enlarged tent. The evening includes a 3-course Italian meal (salad, pasta, desert, non-alcoholic beverages) around the Circus Ring, served by the performers, with performances in between!from

The Zoppé Family Circus welcomes guests into the intimate 500 seat tent for a one-ring circus that honors the best history of the Old-World Italian tradition. Starring Nino the clown, the circus is propelled by a central story (as opposed to individual acts) that feature acrobatic feats, equestrian showmanship, canine capers, clowning and plenty of audience participation. Giovanni Zoppé, the sixth-generation circus performer who plays Nino, says the show aims higher than what passes for circuses these days. "We try to touch every emotion during the show," he says. "They'll laugh, they'll cry, and they'll feel for the characters. It's more of an event than a show."
Giovanni revived the Zoppé Family Circus in America four years ago, and has since been building its reputation with audiences and critics as an enchanting exhibition of traditional European circus. The Zoppé Circus evokes something from a picture book: the clown, the trapeze, the dancing dogs, the ring and the tent, created to be reminiscent of the one-ring European family circuses of the last century and will thrill and amaze children and adults alike with its breathtaking stunts and astonishing acrobatics. The Zoppé Family Circus is a one-time event not to be missed, so get your tickets early!


Opechee Park may host circus, fireworks

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The circus — and possibly the city's annual Fourth of July fireworks, too — may be coming to Opechee Park next year.
Since 2009, the fireworks have been held in the downtown, a concession to the fact that the city has invested heavily in new playing fields at Opechee Park and didn't want to risk their getting trampled under foot by the many visitors who'd be expected to turn out for the display.
This past July 4, while the fireworks were fine, the holiday parade preceding them was, as organizers conceded, somewhat disappointing.
Following a call to the community, the city's American Legion post stepped up and joined with the Kiwanis Club and other groups to "enhance" the patriotic holiday in 2011 by bringing the Kelly-Miller Circus of Hugo, Okla., to Opechee Park next July 2 and 3.
The proposal was presented to the Laconia Parks and Recreation Commission on Sept. 20 and was continued until Oct. 18 after questions were raised about the potential damage that might occur from heavy vehicle traffic on the Opechee fields, which has an in-ground irrigation system.
The idea of the circus has prompted discussion and division on the City Council, some of whose members worry about what could happen to the fields while others worry about excluding the public from public fields.
All sides agree that they want a resolution that serves the city best and that ultimately, they want the fireworks back at Opechee Park.
Mayor Mike Seymour said she spoke with Don Vachon of the Wilkins-Smith American Legion Post 1 on Monday afternoon and that Vachon "understands the city's concerns" and "he just wants to bring a quality event to the city and we agree with him."
Seymour said a representative of the Kelly-Miller Circus — whom Vachon in an e-mail to The Citizen identified as general manager Jim Royal — would come out to Laconia on Oct. 18 to inspect the feasibility of Opechee Park as a venue. Royal would attend the parks and recreation commission meeting that evening where he'd make a presentation and answer questions.
"The combined committees are planning great improvements to bring our Laconia citizens back to enjoy Opechee Park one and again, including bringing the fireworks to the lake. Many, many plans are coming together," Vachon wrote.
Ward 5 Councilor Bob Hamel, who initially questioned the wisdom of having a circus on the Opechee fields, said Monday he is willing to hear what Royal has to say before making up his mind.
A request to use Opechee Park for most purposes first needs the approval of the parks and recreation commission and then the city council.
For Hamel and also for Ward 6 Councilor Armand Bolduc, the matter at hand is how to get the fireworks back to Opechee — and to maybe even host a circus there — without ruining the fields but while celebrating America's birthday.
Big Tex, State Fair of Texas icon.
[Photo: Paula Forbes /]
The State Fair of Texas opened last week and will run til October 17, and, as promised, they threw every food imaginable into the deep fryer basket. Back in the day, state fairs were about celebrating agriculture: they were an opportunity for people for rural areas to take a break from their grueling, every day existence and maybe earn a ribbon or two to show for it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010



Posted: Sep 27, 2010
NORTH PORT - The Gulf Coast community will honor legendary circus performer and North Port resident Manuel "Junior" Ruffin with a public memorial service Tuesday.
Ruffin first started working in the circus industry at age 13. He became the first African American animal trainer in 1952.
Before his death, Ruffin was inducted in to the circus ring of honor, and broke yet another barrier by being the first African American to do that as well.
Ruffin lived in North Port for 30 years.
Tuesday's public memorial is at 5pm at the George Mullen Community Center next to North Port City Hall (4956 City Center Boulevard).
For more information about the memorial service call 941-628-2919.


Dick, heres a couple of shots of Norma and Billie Davenport... (Plunkett & Cristiani), this was about the last time I saw Norma, we were booking a circus and when we had weekends off we would try to find a circus in the vicinity... and we went to Gonzales, TX to visit her sister, Billie Plunkett.

The always talented Plunkett Family... and Lion trainer, Red Hartmann, this was the last time I saw him, he was working a Novelty joint at an event near Houston Texas

Cole Brothers Circus Comes to Destin, FL

This show is packed with excitement. The crowds went crazy to see some of the most highly trained wild animals and top performers take center stage.

Sept. 27, 2010 Reporter: Meagan O'Halloran

The 126th edition of the Cole Brothers Circus pitched their tent at the Destin Commons today, for 2-nights of performances.
This is still the largest circus that performs under a big top and it's the first time this circus stopped in Destin.
This show is packed with excitement. The crowds went crazy to see some of the most highly trained wild animals and top performers take center stage.
"This is a place where we bring families together. Not many places are there that you can go with the entire family and they have something for everybody and they can all do it together" says Rodney West of the Cole Brothers Marketing team.
It's family fun for all ages
Seven year ole Jailyn Downs says her favorite part was “when the lions came and did the tricks".
Four year old Ashton Leogrande says "they are silly inside, the clowns, they are too much funny."
Dangerous stunts and elaborate costumes made for edge of your seat entertainment
That was eleven year old Kiran Damario’s favorite part. "I liked when the acrobats came on and they were all like swinging and they got to bounce on the trampoline. I told my mom I wanted that"
Diane Page is currently taking acrobatic and trapeze lessons up north and says it has been a fascinating hobby she has picked up. "Ahhh I’m crazy about it. So I figured this was a great opportunity to see it up close and personal. I have so much respect for what they do; it's so much harder than it looks" Page says.
Masterful showmanship cultivated for the last 126-years and practiced night-after-night, all over America.
"We started in Florida, we went all the way up the East Coast, all the way up to Massachusetts, all the way to New York, now we're on the last leg of our tour" says West.
The show will run again on Tuesday at 4:30pm and 7:3pm before making their next stop in Mississippi
The Cole Brothers Circus will run through Thanksgiving, with a stop here in Panama City Beach October 21st thru the 24, at Frank Brown Park.For a complete list of show times, visit their website at

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Your Hostess Our very own Ring Mistress Michelle Audrey! She begins with an atmosphere of pure excitement created by our intelligent lighting!

The Georgettes Magic ExtravaganzaFrom the deep and Mysterious land of magic, the ultimate of beauty, excitement, and slight of hand!

The Human CannonballThe World Record Holder -- 185 feet 10 inches is the world record for the longest human cannonball! Blasted from the booming barrel, our courageous captain circus, catapults into the air soaring freestyle to his destination

The Mighty Bo The largest performing elephant in the planet! This majestic pachyderm entertains the audience in his rock & roll debut!

Familykids spotlight: Zuhrah Shrine Circus +
The funny-faced pranksters are at it again.
Sept. 30, 2010--Minneapolis, MN The funny-faced pranksters are at it again during the Zuhrah Shrine Circus. Witness the zany antics of clowns, death-defying acrobats and magic. Elephants, tigers and other animals will perform with their trainers. (7 p.m. Thu.; 10:30 a.m. & 7:30 p.m. Fri.; 10:30 a.m., 3 & 7:30 p.m. Sat.; 1:30 & 6 p.m. next Sun. $12-$27. Target Center, 600 1st Av. N., Mpls.