Wednesday, March 17, 2010

....Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus returning to Coney Island after deal with landlord....

BY Erin Durkin

Wednesday, March 17th 2010, 4:00 AM

The circus is back in town.

After months of wrangling, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus has struck a deal to return to Coney Island this summer.

"We're very excited to have the circus back. It's a great draw," said Councilman Dominic Recchia (D-Coney Island), who said the show would run from June through Labor Day.

Ringling Brothers will pitch tents on the same W. 21st St. lot where it made a Coney debut last summer.

The show drew thousands to the faded seaside mecca, but its return was cast into doubt as the circus and landlord Taconic Investment Partners squabbled over money - and what to do with the school buses parked on the lot under a separate lease with Taconic.

Ringling Brothers officials, who had expected to have return plans finalized by last fall, threatened to take their show on the road if there was no deal by this month.

Under the new agreement, the buses will be moved to a city-owned lot on W. 29th St.

Circus officials declined to comment before papers were signed to make the deal official, but they previously promised that if they were able to come to Coney, they'd put on a brand new show called "Illuscination."

"It's a really fun show," Steve Yaros, vice president of Ringling Brothers' parent company, Feld Entertainment, said last month. "We have an illusionist, who's our ringmaster, who ... makes people and animals and things disappear and reappear."

"We also have an amazing lion act, which we haven't had in a few years," he said, adding there were also "some pretty amazing Chinese acrobats."

Recchia said a highlight would be a chance for city kids to check out circus animals up close before the show. "It gives them something that they read about and see in movies," he said.

The circus will join a new Luna Park, with 19 rides made by Italian amusement giant Zamperla, at the other end of the Boardwalk. Officials hope to make "The Greatest Show on Earth" an annual Coney attraction.

"With the circus and Zamperla, we've got a doubleheader this year on Coney Island," said Coney Island USA founder Dick Zigun. "I'm thrilled."