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Wednesday, January 1, 2014


       Yesterday I wrote about "The Ringling", a 20-acre art complex in Sarasota.  It is the legacy of circus owner John Ringling who wintered there a hundred years ago.  
      His Ringling Bros.- Barnum & Bailey circus was the greatest show on earth back then, possibly better than the renown King Mango Strut. 
      It must have been like Disney World rolling into your town once a year.   You get a sense of this inside the Ringling's Circus Museum.  
         The first building houses the world's largest miniature circus. It was created by Howard Tibbals of Knoxville, Tenn.   For fifty-five years (since he was 15) he's been building rail cars and carving the thousands of people and animals that make up this replica of Ringling's circus in its 1920's golden age.   He's still adding to it.
     Mr. Tibbals took a break to make millions in the hardwood flooring business.  It's fortunate because it allowed him to pay for the $10 million building that houses his little circus and the adjacent building's museum displays.


 A miniature freak show is a part of the 3000 sq. ft. exhibit. 

The walkway through Howard's Big Top led to full size circus displays.  Many of them were interactive. You could imagine yourself riding a circus horse, walking a high wire,  or 


stuffing yourself into a tiny clown car.


                                                     Three clowns

What I liked best was Bruno Zacchini's human cannon.   Mounted on a Mack truck, it shot people through the air for years.   The sign on the side says their method "is a closely guarded family secret".   

It's no secret that we had a great time ringing in the new year at The Ringling.    I'm already looking forward to our next visit.

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