Regarded as the world’s largest circus underneath the big top, the Cole Bros. Circus of the Stars has been entertaining crowds for 127 years.
ATLANTIC CITY — Crimson and gold canopies raise up towards the sky as the staff of the Cole Bros. Circus craft the three-ring big top at the crack of dawn. Not until five hours have elapsed is the tent ready for the show.
While the big names like Ringling and Barnum and Bailey decided to cut their budget and stick to performing in arenas only, the Cole Bros. adhere to preserving circus tradition by engulfing audiences underneath the tented big-top venue.
John W. Pugh, president and CEO of Cole Bros. Circus, aimed to rejuvenate the Cole Bros. brand by reshaping the tent design typically used by American circuses. In an effort to exclude the maze of poles throughout the tent, Pugh’s innovative design led to a tent that comfortably seats 2,000 circus goers and grants them a virtually unobstructed view of the circus acts.
Ringleader Chris Connors, along with his circus family, is hauling the three-ring tent to Mays Landing (Atlantic County), Seaville, and Rio Grande (both Cape May County) this August. The Cole Bros. Circus of the Stars has been entertaining crowds for 127 years and is regarded as the world’s largest circus underneath the big top.
Although hundreds of circuses have appeared and vanished since the 1800s, the Cole Bros. Circus has survived and continually captivates audiences of all ages. William Washington Cole (1847-1915) started the mobile community in 1884, reeling in great success (he left an estate worth $5 million when he died). After being sold and resold to prosperous families throughout the years, the renowned Clyde Beatty performed with the circus troupe, which created the prolonged association of the Cole Bros. and Clyde Beatty names. John Pugh and his wife, Brigitte, now own the circus company.
Pugh has nicknamed his band of circus performers as the “I-95 Show” since the traveling company practically stops at every destination along route I-95. The Cole Bros. circus journeys to about 110 cities a year — three cities a week starting in March and performing until Thanksgiving.
Under the star-studded ceiling, the Cole Bros. Circus enthuses crowds with laughter and smiles. The entourage of the circus family consists of 60 distinctive performers from over a dozen nations.
Svetlana Gololobova exchanged her comfortable home in Kazakhstan for a life under the big top. At a young age of 14, Gololobova started training at the State Circus School in Uzbekistan and later graduated from Moscow’s State College for Circus. Her unique artistry and talent have been featured in the Moscow Circus, Cirque Parasol, Cirque de Soleil and in many others.
In 2010, Gololobova became the first woman to perform the seemingly impossible “one finger” vertical balance. She demonstrates her difficult achievement during the show.
Joining Gololobova in the circus, José Bermudez — the Human Cannonball — can be spotted flying out of the barrel that the Cole Bros. Circus claims to be the world’s largest cannon.
A trio of motorcyclists take on the “Thunderdrome,” maneuvering through the metal globe by relying on the principle of inertia. Their confidence as they revolve throughout the dome mesmerizes circus goers.
Aside from the human beings that perform, lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!) can be witnessed under the vinyl and steel tent. Isabel and Rafael Abuhadba, who come from six generations of animal trainers, present their colorful cartoon poodles to circus audiences. Laura Herriot presents and trains a variety of amazing animals such as, horses, camels, elephants and more.
And of course, a circus would not be complete unless there were clowns. The Bermudez family clowns waddle throughout the tent with their oversized footwear and fire-engine red noses, providing the show with great comedy.
Other acts include the flying trapeze, aerial ballet, hand balancing, and motorcycle stunts.
The event that’s truly capable of turning a septagenarian into a wide-eyed toddler, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, starts a five-show performance at Boardwalk Hall tonight — Thursday, April 18 — and remains in town through Sunday afternoon, April 21
Children of all ages — meaning toddlers to octogenarians and beyond — will welcome “The Greatest Show on Earth” back to Atlantic City for a four-day, five-show stay at Boardwalk Hall this Thursday through Sunday, April 19-22.
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Resorts has provided AC Weekly with terrific time-lapse video showing the raising of the new Resorts Event Pavilion, where the circuses will be performed through Sept. 11, 2011.
Ringside Seats When W.W. Cole first created what would become the oldest Big-Top circus in the nation, his most mesmerizing attraction was a single, glowing glass globe powered by a steam engine that produced light. That was in 1884, and while the 125th anniversary of Cole Brothers Circus of the Stars — which visits the Atlantic City Race Course in Mays Landing next Wednesday through Friday, Aug. 5-7 — is quite a bit more high-tech today, much of its original charm and recipes for success remain the same. “We work for our patrons, the people who come to see Cole Brothers Circus,” says John Pugh, who co-owns the circus with his wife, Brigitte. “Our customers tell us what they enjoy and want to see, and we craft our performances accordingly.” The latest edition of the circus promises its perpetual, ever-popular attractions and some exciting new offerings in “a fast-paced, two-hour show.” It includes the Columbia Toprasta Troupe’s renowned three-tier, seven-man pyramid on the high wire, the “Globe of Death,” the “Dog and Pony Review,” an aerial ballet,...