There’s magic underneath the big top of Cole Brothers Circus, as well as an opportunity to help a good cause.
“An old show man once said to me, ‘It’s like becoming a kid again,’” Chris Connors, Cole Bros. Circus ringmaster and performance director, said of both watching and performing in a circus.
The Cole Bros. Circus, the world’s largest tented circus, comes to town Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at Walter B. Jones Park in Havelock. Show times are 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.
A portion of the proceeds benefit the Havelock Veterans of Foreign Wars post.
Advance tickets are $16 for adult general admission, and $4 more for reserved seats. VIP seats are available for $7 more. Free tickets for kids 12 and under can be found at GoToTheCircus.com. Advance tickets can be purchased through Sunday at Kittrell Auto Sales on Main Street in Havelock, Tops Cigars on Main Street in Havelock, the Painted Pelican on U.S. 70 in Morehead City, Coastal Mini Storage on U.S. 70 in Havelock, or at tickets.com.
The shows will also act as a fundraiser for local civic organizations. VFW Post 7315 in Havelock will receive a portion from the circus proceeds to put toward its programs.
“Not only is this a special event for families, it really does help the local areas where we perform,” said Bill Carter, senior marketing director for Cole Bros. Circus.
He said the circus prides itself on being a classic American-style circus.
“The traditional American-style circus is under the big top, under a tent,” Carter said.
Putting up the tent, which usually takes place the morning of the first performance in a new town, lasts about four hours, and Carter said the public is invited to come watch the tent-raising for free around 7 a.m. Monday in Havelock. Carter said the main action — raising the center of the tent — usually happens between 7:45 and 8 a.m.
“It’s like nothing most people have seen before, unless they’re old enough to remember the glory days of the American circus,” Carter said. “You’re going to see a completely empty lot get turned into a circus.”
Though the circus has new acts for this year, some things remain.
“One thing we never change is entertaining children of all ages and that’s our main goal,” Connors said.
One of Connors’ favorite features is the variety of animals that perform, including American-born and raised white tigers and elephants, which he said are rare animals for children to see.
“They are very much members of the circus family just as much as anyone else,” Carter said. “The elephant is such a traditional symbol and part of the American Circus.”
Katie Hansen is a reporter for the Jacksonville Daily News.