Circus brings a touch of magic to Cove

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Killeen Daily Herald
Sunday, March 15, 2015

COPPERAS COVE — More than a thousand residents from the greater Fort Hood area filled the Big Top Circus tent at Ogletree Gap Park for the first of four shows put on by the Carson and Barnes Circus on Saturday as hundreds more began filling the area in anticipation of the next show.

Children of all ages stared wide-eyed in delight as they petted llamas and donkeys, while smiles reached from ear-to-ear as they rode miniature ponies and mighty Asian elephants.

“Our animals are just as much a part of our family as the performers are,” said manager Kristin Parra, a fourth-generation circus performer whose grandparents started Carson and Barnes in the 1930s. “Each of our animals has a single handler that gets to know the animal individually, working with them for years so both the animal and handler know each other’s personality. This is our 79th year as a family-owned circus. We don’t have a rating — this is just good, clean, family fun that everyone can enjoy.”

Crowds cheered as Ringmaster Gairo Ojeda opened up the show, bringing in high-flying trapeze acts, clowns, trained dogs, horses, elephants and the motorcycle “Globe of Death,” where daring motorcyclists performed gravity-defying precision stunts in a globe-shaped cage.

Cirque du Soleil veteran Luis Miguel Terry wowed the crowd with a bounce-juggling act that left spectators wondering just how many balls he was actually juggling, while Mexico’s Rosales Family kept everyone on the edge of their seats as the youngest members climbed 20 feet in the air on a pole supported only by the oldest’s shoulders.

A fairy even spun dizzily high above the crowd, releasing “magic dust” before kicking off a pirate routine, which concluded with an aerial dance by Amanda Valencia that left the audience gasping in wonder.

“The aerial stuff was the best part,” said 7-year-old Scarlet Susana of Killeen, who was a first-time circus-goer. “I’m going to tell all of my friends.”

One of those friends who was with her, 7-year-old Jhurnee Love of Cove, said she liked “Tinkerbell and the fairy dust” the best.

Their mothers, who used to work together and are still great friends, said they were happy to see the circus come to town.

“I’m excited — we need more stuff in Cove, so we were excited to have something for our kids to do this weekend,” said Tasha Love, Jhurnee’s mom. “And the weather’s warm, so it’s perfect. I’m ready to see more clowns. The show with the plungers was very funny.”

The most exciting part of being a circus performer, however, is the applause, said Ojeda, a fifth-generation performer whose family left the circuses in Mexico when he was 2 to begin performing in the U.S.

“It’s the applause that gets you going, that lets you know that all the hard work has paid off,” said Ojeda, who is in his second year of being a ringmaster. “It’s a lot of work, but seeing that the crowd is having a great time makes it all worthwhile.”

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