Panama City Beach - The Cole Brothers Circus rolled into Panama City Beach late Wednesday night and put on its first of nine shows, Thursday afternoon.
With about 40 crew members working to set up for Panama City Beach's first show, Ring Master Chris Connors said they work pretty much around the clock.
"About a quarter til 6 this morning they started staking out the ground, start putting the stakes in. That's the very first thing that goes up," Connors said.
That's six in the morning, after doing a show in Georgia last night. The Cole Brothers traveling season goes from March until November, and the curtain call in one town simply means, time to get to work in the next one.
"We came down from Georgia, about 200 miles. We did a show there last night. We arrived here early hours in the morning and the crew goes right to work," Owner John Pugh said.
Setting up the tent, the seating, the props and caring for the animals, the crew worked hard all day to prepare for their first show on Thursday afternoon. Connors said they will get only four days off during the whole season. He said you got to love what you do, and he refers to all of his co-workers as his "circus family." Despite all of the hard work, he says when the show starts, its all worth it.
"The expression, the yelling, the screaming, the people going crazy because this is thrilling and that's when it gets to you, and it makes it all easy," Connors said. The owner agreed saying that that feeling is almost better than getting paid because of the sense of accomplishment he gets knowing he made somebody happy.
The Cole Brothers calls themselves the world's largest circus under the big top, with a tent that seats two thousand people. The plan is to keep expanding though, getting a new tent next year that will fit even more. Connors said the circus' success has come from its ability to keep popular, traditional acts like the human cannonball as well as keep adding newer ones as well such as a new "free-style motor show" with daredevil drivers.
The Circus will be here through Sunday, October 24, with its final show at 4:30 pm that day.
Showtimes Thursday, Oct. 21 are at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m.
Showtimes Friday, Oct. 22 are 4:30 and 7:30
Showtimes Saturday, Oct. 23 are 1:30, 4:30, and 7:30 p.m.
Showtimes Sunday, Oct. 24 are 1:30 and 4:30 p.m.
Tickets: Adult $17 ($12 Advance purchase), Children (ages 2-12) $12.
Free Kids Tickets: Go to www.freekidstickets.com
Reserved seats: Add $3.
VIP seat: Add $5.
Call for tickets: 1-888-332-5200
Additional Info: 1-800-796-5672