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Ladies and gentlemen, and children of all ages will have 84 opportunities to catch a miniature version of “The Greatest Show on Earth” in the heart of Coney Island this summer.
Beginning in June, Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus will truck in seven white tigers, three Asian elephants, seven talented dachshunds and a host of other assorted acrobats and clowns to the site of the old Washington baths at West 21st Street and Surf Avenue.
The big top — being shipped in from the United Kingdom — is set to rise next door to the Abe Stark ice skating rink on June 3.
Performances begin June 16 and run through September 7.
Taconic Investment Partners — the developer hoping to erect 4,500 new units of housing in Coney West — owns the site and is offering the use of the property free of charge, as well as donating $100,000 to help get it ready for the circus performers and their menagerie.
Our reporters were in Kaiser Park last Friday when Mayor Mike Bloomberg first made the announcement and said that the deal to bring Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus to Brooklyn demonstrated the city’s commitment to “restoring Coney Island’s vibrancy.”
While not providing a solid number, City Councilmember Domenic Recchia said that “The Greatest Show on Earth” will be hiring support staff from the community.
The talented circus folk who will be teasing and taunting death itself six times a week on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays this summer in Coney Island will reside in 32 trailers housed across the street from the big top throughout the length of the engagement — while the big cats, clever canines and burly pachyderms will be kept on site in a “completely secure environment.”
“It’ll be the biggest tent in Coney Island, Stephen Payne, spokesperson for Feld Entertainment, producers of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, assured the newspaper. “This is something that everyone involved is really excited about.”
Tickets for the circus go on sale April 30 and will be available through TicketMaster or by visiting Ringling.com. Prices start at $10 and go all the way up to $65 for the best seats in the house.
“The Coney Island Boom A Ring,” as the show is being billed, is actually one of three separate traveling companies Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus employs.
The largest companies — like the one that just wrapped up “Zing, Zang, Zoom” at Madison Square Garden — travel by rail in mile-long trains.
“The Gold Show” is Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus’s smallest and “most intimate” traveling show. It travels by truck and is currently on tour in Texas and Louisiana en route to Coney Island.
When the circus big top is finally raised between Surf Avenue and the boardwalk in June, it will be large enough to accommodate 2,300 patrons, be equipped with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems and be fully air-conditioned.
The excitement level was high outside Nathan’s Famous last week as Borough President Marty Markowitz — outfitted in full ringmaster’s regalia — chomped on hot dogs and hobnobbed with the mayor, Recchia and other officials.
“All this shows that Coney Island is really fun and really open,” Coney Island Development Corporation President Lynn Kelly said.
Kelly, of course, is currently pushing hard to get the city’s three-pronged redevelopment plan for Coney Island through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.
Community Board 13 has already thrown its support behind the rezoning proposal — albeit with no less than 20 separate recommendations. Markowitz is expected to deliver his recommendation shortly.
Maya Haddan, co-founder of the Original Coney Island Beach Shop on Stillwell Avenue, said that she is definitely looking forward to Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus coming to town — and all the foot traffic it’s likely to bring with it.
“We’re planning on having a good season,” she declared.
“What’s better than having the circus in our own backyard?” Wonder Wheel co-owner Dennis Vourderis said.
Coney Island USA’s Aaron Bebe said that he is looking forward to the “natural interaction” that will occur when the circus comes to town.
“Yeah,” he laughed. “The clowns will be drinking at our bar.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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