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Tuesday, March 28, 2006 


Arlington, TX March 24-26 proved to be a strong date for opening the 2006 circus season. With sell-out shows on Saturday, Sunday’s three scheduled performances just weren’t enough. A fourth performance was added for 9:30 on Sunday. Adding shows is great news at the box office. It’s a bit tougher on performers, who are already tired, and for a new ringmaster whose voice is his livelihood. Circus folks aren’t called "troupers" for nothing. Everybody pulled together giving Arlington a circus weekend they will long remember. Hours after the rest of the show had gone to bed, the tent crew was still hard at work stowing away the seats and pulling down the bigtop. It was the wee hours of Monday morning before their work was done, and at 5:00 AM everybody was up and ready to move from yesterday’s town to today’s town to do it all over again. Today’s town, tomorrow’s town, yesterday’s town, if you’re confused by the vernacular, welcome to the circus. Playing in 200 or more communities every year, it isn’t that LaPlace, LA or Kokomo, IN look the same or that circus folk can’t tell them apart. We all have our favorite places, and yes we know their names. The circus isn’t just about those magical hours under the bigtop when we show off our talents and our spangles. The circus is a daily logistical battle moving entire community from yesterday to today and setting it up and tearing it down again. Years ago when troupers often marched all night down mud tracks following the fence rails for miles and miles between this hamlet and that it became apparent that all towns are destinations, whether you remember them by name, or remember them only by geography. Frequently we connect places to the people we meet. So Kokomo become's Sue Ellen's town, the nice woman who ran the coin operated laundry, and LaPlace is Carl's town, the great guy who served as Circus Chairman for the hosting organization. We like to say that circus is about family. We aren't being pithy. It's true. Our families and yours, we're in this together. We could just as accurately say that circus is about friendships. The friendships we made yesterday, or today, or will make tomorrow. The friendships that you may have made arriving at the lot early enough to watch the workingmen raise the tent, and then sticking around late enough to see it all get packed away again. So we may not recall the name of the town, but we remember the Wal-Mart down the street from the fairgrounds, and we remember you and we remember your name. And you may not remember the name of a particular performer, but you remember the circus and you remember the nice lady who sold you a ticket and suggested the very best place to sit to get up close to the elephants. Yesterday's town was Hubbard, TX. Today's town in Gun Barrel City. I know tomorrow's town too, but then I'd be getting ahead of myself.