Circus draws big crowds; biggest performers cool down with fire hoses
By Doug Wilson-Herald-Whig Senior Writer
Aug 31, 2013
Quincy, IL--Eli Zanger got an early birthday present when he got to help give a circus elephant a bath on Saturday and got a plastic fire helmet and emblem as well.
"Look mommy, I'm a fireman," said Eli, who is the grandson of Quincy fire fighter Mike Lantz.
Beth Zanger, Eli's mother, watched and occasionally laughed as her small sons helped hold a fire hose being used to bathe and cool down a pair of Asian elephants. Wade, her 2-year-old wanted people to know "he is a big elephant," with extra emphasis on the word "big."
Zanger brought the boys out for the noon-hour elephant washing, but she also was going to bring them back for the Carson and Barnes Circus performance during the afternoon.
High temperatures may have reduced the size of the crowds, but not the excitement among the youngest circus goers. And some of the adults were happy to see that temperatures are expected to fall today and Monday, when more 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. performances are planned.
Vanessa Palmer of Quincy went to the 2 p.m. performance on Saturday as temperatures were in the upper 90s.
"They loved it. It was worth the heat. I think it was an all-around good experience," Palmer said as she carried her grandson, Alexander, and kept an eye on her nephew, Ananias.
Her 5-year-old nephew could not decide whether his favorite part was the acrobats, the tight rope walkers, or the elephants and other animals.
Another Quincy woman, who didn't want her name mentioned left the 2 p.m. show early. Her 3-year-old son wanted to see the animals in a petting zoo setup outside. So they left the tent while acrobats and dancers were performing.
Marv Hufford, owner of the Quincy TCBY, stopped in for the 2 p.m. show. His yogurt shop is one of the places where people have been getting advance tickets for the circus.
"It's a good crowd for as hot as it is. They're responding pretty good," Hufford said.
Laura Kent Donahue from the Quincy Noon Kiwanis Club turned out to watch and to help wash one of the elephants with a fire hose.
"That doesn't look like an abused animal," Donahue said as one of the female elephants turned to face the fire hose and took a drink.
Donahue said complaints by some local animal-rights supporters were misdirected.
"This is a quality operation. This is the third time we've had them here in six years. This is the fourth generation of this family that owns the circus and you don't get to the fourth generation if you mistreat the animals," Donahue said.
The Kiwanis are raising money with the circus that will "go back to our community and to the kids," Donahue said.
Barbara Miller Byrd is an owner and longtime performer with the circus. She considers it a family business and her daughters are in management positions with Carson and Barnes. She said the shows offer a chance to see the "traditional American circus."
Fire Chief Joe Henning was on hand to help children and a few adults hose down the elephants.
"It's all about getting involved with kids, letting them have personal contact with firefighters, learning about what we do and, more importantly, learning about giving back to the community," Henning said.
He also liked the positive response from the elephants, who showed their appreciation for the shower.
Carson and Barnes Circus will have performances at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sept. 1 and 2 at the Quincy Mall.