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The evolution of big top

Posted: October 7, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: October 7, 2011 1:30 a.m.

Yasmin Rivera rehearses a routine on an aerial hoop, or lyra, under the big top of Circus Vargas at Westfield Valencia Town Center on Thursday.

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No lions, no tigers, no bears will be found under the Circus Vargas big top, a spokeswoman for the traveling troupe said Thursday.

In fact, no animals are featured at the circus that opened Thursday at Westfield Valencia Town Center.
“We don’t have animals,” Circus Vargas spokeswoman Nicole Olney said.

The  42-year-old circus dropped animals from its act last year, she said, in an effort “to keep the show fresh.”
 In the case of Circus Vargas, it needn’t worry.

“We’ve been making changes over the years, and one of the directions we decided to follow was no animals,” Olney said.

And, while going to the circus has remained an American tradition since April 3, 1793, when the first circus show was unveiled in Philadelphia — at least according to Pennsylvania historians — the nature of circus shows has changed over the years.

For Circus Vargas, the focus has remained fixed on children and family, Olney said.

“We are a kids-friendly circus,” Olney said, pointing to the star of today’s troupe, Matti the clown.
Circus Vargas began in 1969, when Clifford E. Vargas unveiled his first show under the big top.

At least 1,500 people are able to sit “comfortably” under the Circus Vargas tent, according to the company’s website.
The main tent consists of 90,000 square feet of fabric and is supported by 500 individually placed stakes and more than 4 miles of rope and cable weighing more than 17 tons.

Each day, a team of 30 raises the big top, and every night, they take it down.

The circus will remain in town through Oct. 17. Tickets can be purchased at the circus box office inside the mall.


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