Friday, March 26, 2010

....Circus refunds only part of the tale....

Three stories flow from the recent visit of the Kelly-Miller Circus to Frisco. Like all human tales, these weave together in a combination of happiness, disappointment and hope.

I. Refunds for cancelled shows

Refunds are available for those who purchased early-sale tickets to the Kelly Miller Circus shows for March 21. The day’s 2 and 5 p.m. shows were cancelled due to the heavy rain and snow that hit Frisco Sunday.

The Heritage Association will be happy to refund pre-paid admission tickets, at the Frisco Heritage Museum 10 a.m.-2 p.m. through Saturday. The museum is located at 6455 Page Street, next to Babe’s, and is closed Monday and Tuesday.

“While we made every attempt to keep the Big Top open, the heavy rain and snow presented unsafe conditions for the public, animals, and performers,” according to a statement issued by the Heritage Association of Frisco, the sponsor of the annual fundraising event.

A share of proceeds from tickets sold before show day, up to and including March 18 this year, go to fund activities supported by the Frisco Heritage Association. These include programs and activities at the Frisco Heritage Museum.

Heritage Association members ask ticket buyers to please not attempt to receive a refund from sites hosting the early ticket sales, Tom Thumb or the Heritage Museum gift store, as they are set up as only pre-sale establishments.

“Should you wish you donate your ticket funds to the Heritage Association, we would greatly appreciate your continued support,” the association’s statement quietly encouraged.

II. Mother Nature won 2 of 3

Hosting the Kelly-Miller circus in the spring is the Heritage Association of Frisco’s major fund raising event for the year, writes Bob King, adding this was the eighth year for this event.

The funds raised go to supporting the Heritage Association’s education and preservation activities. You can see the results of the Heritage Association in conjunction with the City of Frisco when you look at the Heritage Center and the Heritage Museum. You can learn more about the Heritage Association of Frisco by visiting our Web site:

Mother Nature dealt the circus event a severe blow this past weekend. Friday started out as a beautiful spring day and the two shows had very good crowds, but the weather prognosticators were predicting foul weather ahead. We crossed our fingers, but little did we know it would turn out so bad.

Saturday delivered two inches of rain. We spent the morning before the shows finding a couple of large round hay bales, getting them delivered, and spreading them to make a passable walkway to the main tent and other activities. The rain, mud, and the cooler temperatures reduced our attendance to about one third of what we would have normally expected.

As of noon Saturday, we saw Sunday had a prediction for 1 to 2 inches of snow, not good, but we could work through it. We located some heaters for the circus “tent boss” so he could keep some heat in the tent overnight, otherwise the cold temperatures

could damage the tent.

Mother Nature had other ideas, however and delivered six inches of snow. At 4 a.m. Sunday, the “tent boss” made the decision to “strike” the tent as the snow load had become too great. It would be unsafe to hold the show and could damage the tent, causing a great impact to the future shows on the schedule.

The next hurdle was to be able to get the equipment off the lot. We again prevailed on the local farm community and found a tractor to come to our aid in removing the circus trucks and trailers out of the mud. Finally, we also had to establish a refund process for those people who had purchase tickets for the Sunday shows.

Looking forward from 7 a.m. Sunday: We will still have to come back and restore the field when it dries out. Needless to say what had started out to be good fund raising event did not turn out in our favor. We would appreciate any donations of your ticket costs.

III. Friday’s highlights

A couple hundred Frisco area residents “joined the circus” at least for the morning March 19, to see an elephant hoist the center tent and kick off a weekend of fun. Kelly Miller Circus, out of Oklahoma, is on Frisco Square Boulevard at John Elliott Drive through Sunday.

“It was real neat and fun to see how it used to be done,” said Rhonda Franklin, Frisco. “It was good to see how hard they worked. I couldn’t believe they got the tent up in just an hour!”

Joining Rhonda on her first trip to the circus tent-raising event was her husband, Shawn, and their two daughters, Kinsie, 6, and Kaylie, 13 months.

“I’m glad we got up early to see it,” Shawn Franklin said.

“Did you think the elephant had to work hard to raise the tent?” Rhonda asked Kinsie.

“No, it was easy,” Kinsie said. “The elephant was big.”

More than a dozen men spread out the various pieces of colorful canvas. They carried and dragged in rigging, using the long and short thick ropes to tie together the slivers of canvas to make up the massive tent.

Using their own power in groups and that of several tractors they pushed the shortest posts into place. Thus, space appeared along the sidewalls, making way for the crowd to file in and view the spectacle for which they all came as the sun rose.

The grande dame of elephants put the finishing touch to a morning’s work. Hooked to each of the four center-ring poles, she pulled each into place to fully support the big top. Each success drew a round of applause from the crowd.

The Kelly Miller Circus is owned by John North Ringling II. The Oklahoma-based entertainment organization travels nine months a year, according to the announcer. The program is hosted as an annual fundraiser by the Heritage Association of Frisco.