Photo by Scott MacWatters
A performer twirls three hula hoops around her during Circus Gatti in the City Bank Auditorium on Saturday.
By Scott MacWatters, Staff Writer
Sun Feb 17, 2013.
Lubbock,Texas--People of all ages flooded into City Bank Auditorium and Coliseum to see performers and entertainers perform magic, daring acrobatic tricks and tame wild animals.
The Circus Gatti came to Lubbock, hosting five shows — one on Friday and two on Saturday and Sunday.
Before each performance, people were allowed to pay for the chance to ride ponies or a full-sized 42-year-old Asian elephant named Patti.
Mason Ballentine came to the circus with his father, Michael Ballentine. Before the circus began, Mason Ballentine got to ride the elephant.
“I liked the elephants,” Mason Ballentine said with excitement.
Edgar Mesa, a manager of the Circus Gatti, said he was happy with how the first performance turned out Friday.
“It was very busy,” he said. “Everybody had fun last night and we’re hoping to get busier (Saturday).”
Mesa said about 1,000 people showed up for the first Saturday performance.
He said the Circus Gatti travels around North America, mainly the U.S. and Canada, between February and October.
During that time, Mesa said the circus travels about 25,000 miles a year.
“It’s hard to count (how many shows we do a year),” he said. “We open Feb. 1 to Oct. 1. With two shows a day, it can be quite a bit.”
Mesa said this year’s list of acts is different from the 2012 list of performances.
“The 2013 show is whole a different show from last year,” he said. “We got the wheel of death, we got, of course, the elephants, we got dogs, we got the motorcycle up the wire, we got showgirls, we got clowns, jugglers, we got tons and tons of stuff, new stuff.”
The performance started with a small dance number to introduce the ringmaster, then continued on to individual performances, including a clown making an entrance in a tiny car and some magic tricks.
A particularly awe-inspiring trick involved the wheel of death — a large metal pendulum, which a performer propeled to go a full 360 degrees at increasing speeds. At the peak of the performance, the performer jumped ropes on top of the pendulum as it rotated, and even rode it blindfolded.
Another part of the act had three performers take the high wire to a new level, as they rode up the wire on a motorcycle before performing different tricks including spinning the motorcycle around the highwire.
The circus also showcased skilled acrobatics and had performers climbing ropes, ribbons and rings high off of the ground.
Between acts, the ringmaster and the clown took turns entertaining the audience with magic tricks and slapstick comedy. During one of the ringmaster’s magic tricks, he seemingly made six bottles of wine appear out of nothing.
The favorite part of the performance for many children was the elephant training done by John Pelton. The act had two elephants performing balancing tricks in a ring. During the act, elephants could even be seen standing on two legs.
Following the circus, people who bought meet-and-greet tickets were allowed to go down to the floor and take pictures with the performers.
Barbara Ramirez, who went to the circus with her family, said the circus was a great way to spend a day together.
“It was great because we got the Groupon, so it was worth the bargain,” Ramirez said. “Two adults, three children for $37, plus the meet-and-greet ticket, so it’s affordable for a family of five.”