BY BARRY WARNER
The smell of hot popcorn, the taste of hot dogs and the bright colored balloons added to the fun-filled atmosphere of the big-top circus held in Congers this past weekend. Visitors came an hour early to enjoy the pony and camel rides plus the moon bounce attraction on the grounds adjacent to the tent. The Zerbini Family Circus provided excitement employing clowns, acrobats, jugglers, animal acts, aerialists and other performers. The audience members focused their attention on one ring, where all of the action took place.
The ringmaster was the most visible performer who guided the audience through the entertainment experience. The call for attention began with ‘Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls and children of all ages!’ Verbal exaggerations used to introduce the acts and create a sense of awe included ‘amazing,’ ‘spectacular’ and ‘dangerous’.
The circus was a splendid mix of color, sights, sounds, laughter, applause and wonder. For instance, the audience watched with exhilaration as the female aerialist was suspended like a bird high in the air hanging on a rope and sighed with relief, when she returned to the ground.
Ruku Decolyse, is the fundraising chair and vice president of programming for The Veterans’ Memorial Association of Congers. She told the Rockland County Times, “A portion of the proceeds raised from circus ticket sales paid for scholarships that were presented to the winners of the Memorial Day essay contest for high school students. There were two shows, at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. that accommodated an approximate total of sixteen hundred people. Local stores sold tickets for the Veterans’ Memorial Association and benefitted from the increased traffic, as well.”
Ringmaster Melody Zerbini, daughter of circus founder Alain Zerbini said, “The circus is the oldest form of wholesome entertainment in the American tradition and we take the responsibility to put on both a fun and thrilling show. Paying for a ticket to our show is cheaper than going to the movies. Every seat in the tent gives the people a close-up view of the acts and the live show provides excitement for everyone from the age of one to one hundred years in a family environment. There are 12 performers and it takes 50 people three hours for set-up and 45 minutes to break down the tents and concessions.”
Zerbini continued, “For six months, we are in a different city each day, but our home base is in Myakka, Florida. This circus has been family-owned and operated for 80 years. My father, Alain Zerbini, was a wire-walker and performed for the Zerbini Circus show in South Africa. I find that serving as Ringmaster is a fun job as I warm-up the audience and get them to clap and cheer, introduce the acts and encourage audience participation. One of the unique acts is called ‘Malambo’, as a Spanish cowboy uses a lasso to knock down a cigarette held in the mouth of a volunteer from the audience.”
Parents Jennifer McCormack and Joy Damiani agreed, “We attended the circus in Congers because it was close, it was not overly crowded plus we came with friends and the children had fun viewing the circus acts.”
The awesomeness of the Big-Top, traditional animal acts, music and the daredevil stunts resulted in a great time for youngsters and seniors alike.