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updated: 9/23/2012 9:54 PM

The Big Top fills up for circus in Itasca

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  • Ryan Holder of St. Louis with his striped sensations wowed the audience Sunday at the 74th Kelly Miller Circus in Itasca.

       Ryan Holder of St. Louis with his striped sensations wowed the audience Sunday at the 74th Kelly Miller Circus in Itasca.
    photos by Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Young and old alike were laughing at the buffoonery put on by the clowns, including Hannah Larson, of Huntley, and Gavin Laughlin, of Wheaton, during the 74th Kelly Miller Circus in Itasca Sunday.

       Young and old alike were laughing at the buffoonery put on by the clowns, including Hannah Larson, of Huntley, and Gavin Laughlin, of Wheaton, during the 74th Kelly Miller Circus in Itasca Sunday.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Young and old alike were laughing at the buffoonery put on by the clowns at the 74th Kelly Miller Circus, which did two shows in Itasca Sunday.

       Young and old alike were laughing at the buffoonery put on by the clowns at the 74th Kelly Miller Circus, which did two shows in Itasca Sunday.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Ryan Holder of St. Louis with his striped sensations wowed the audience Sunday during the 74th Kelly Miller Circus in Itasca.

       Ryan Holder of St. Louis with his striped sensations wowed the audience Sunday during the 74th Kelly Miller Circus in Itasca.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

Itasca's Washington Park hosted an iconic slice of American entertainment Sunday when the circus rolled into town.

The Oklahoma-based Kelly Miller Circus, celebrating its 74th anniversary this year, pitched its tent in Itasca Sunday morning and delivered two 90-minute shows during the day.

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Produced by John Ringling North II, a descendant of the famous Ringling Brothers, Sunday's circus delivered all the classic moments: death-defying aerial stunts, the taming of ferocious animals, and a booming greeting to "children of all ages" from Ringmaster John Moss III.

Ricardo Nunez, of Addison, brought his two children, ages 5 and 7, to the first show, which started at 2 p.m.

"They've never been to a circus, and actually, neither have I," Nunez said. "So I guess we're all excited."

Nunez said his children were most excited to see performances by the live animals.

"But they might get a little scared, too," he said. "My little one took one look at the tigers just now and almost told us to take her home."

Those tigers were the first act of the day. Trainer Ryan Holder got all five of them to sit on their hind legs, roll over on cue and take turns jumping over one another. Next, the Delara Duo, consisting of Delena Fusco and Sara Greene, delighted the crowd with a series of stunts performed while hanging high in the air.

The other acts included a set of pirate-themed stunts and slapstick comic relief from clowns Steve Copeland and Ryan Combs. (One of the clowns, while being photographed by a news photographer, said in an exaggerated W.C. Fields voice, "Go away kid, you bother me!")

Spectator Cindy Freitag, of Arlington Heights, said she was pleasantly surprised by the show's spectacle. She and her sister brought their children to the show.

"Honestly, I was expecting something a lot smaller and more basic," she said during intermission. "But this has been a pretty good day at the circus, as far as we're concerned."

The Itasca Lions Club sponsored the Kelly Miller Circus' visit. The show travels to the south suburbs later this week. For information, go to kellymillercircus.com.

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