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Circus a Victoria family tradition (videos)

By By Caty Hirst - CHIRST@VICAD.COM
Jan. 22, 2013 at 10:03 p.m.
Updated Jan. 22, 2013 at 7:23 p.m.

Kimmie Jackson, 4, laughs while sitting  in her mother Janet Jackson's lap during the clown show at the Shrine Circus. Families from the Crossroads filled the bleachers of the Victoria Community Center on Tuesday and    chairs around the circus rings during the first of two shows.

Nearby performances

• 5 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Bee County Exposition Center

• Jan. 25-27 at the AmericanBank Center in Corpus Christi with numerous show times.

To learn more

Dressed in bright red, wearing fake eyelashes and carefully painted makeup, the circus peddlers weaved through the crowds, hawking the essentials - cotton candy, popcorn and stuffed animals.

In the arena below, giant white tigers pawed the air, poodles jumped through high hula hoops, elephants stood on each other's backs and fairies danced on ropes from the ceiling.

It is just another day at the George Carden International Circus, which has been coming to Victoria for more than 30 years.

Daniela Pena, of Victoria, first came to the circus when she was a little girl.

On Tuesday, she got to bring her 4-year-old daughter, Jilliana, for the first time.

The pair didn't even mind being in the standing-room-only crowd at the Victoria Community Center.

"It hasn't changed," Pena said, smiling as Jilliana eagerly pointed to the acrobats. "It is the same - it is still so exciting."

Jilliana quickly asked her mom if she could join the circus, so she could be a "fairy like the other girls."

"I want to hang from the ceiling like the other girls did. I just want to hang like that because it was so cool. So when can I do it, Mom? Because I'm already 4," Jilliana pointed out to her mom.

That spark is what it is all about said George Carden, owner of the circus.

"As long as you have children, the circus doesn't really change a whole lot," he said.

The biggest change for the circus, Carden said, is that the lighting is better in some of the newer facilities. But the acts, the animals, the performers and the adventure have all stayed the same.

Carden said his traveling circus, based out of Springfield, Mo., does about 400-450 shows a year.

"Our business has been booming," Carden said. "With the hard times, we have had with the recession, a lot of people can't make the big trips out of town, so they go to what comes to them."

Celina Pena, of Victoria, came to the show, which benefited area Shrine Centers, with her two daughters and their grandmother.

She had never been to a circus and wouldn't have made the trip to Houston or Corpus Christi to see one.

"It makes it so much easier that it came here," she said, toting around 3-year-old Jackson and 5-year-old Aubrey.

Aubrey, quick to get her face painted so she could be a lady bug for the evening, said the tigers were her favorite part.

"I hope it brings creativity to the kids. It is so much better than them being on their iPhones or iPads. It keeps their imagination going," Celina Pena said.

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