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Ringling Bros. Circus comes to town

20130719 Ringling-Bros Dean-KelleyHIDALGO—Dean Kelley explained at only 4-years-old, he knew he was destined to be an entertainer. After seeing clowns performing for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for the first time, he knew that’s what he wanted to be – a circus clown. Where else could adults jump around and have so much fun?

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Fully Charged Gold Edition show opened this week at the State Farm Arena on July 18 and runs through to July 21. Kelley said 2013 marks the 144th year of the circus’s run, though each year their show is unique.

“We do anywhere between 250 and 300 shows per year,” Kelley said. “Fully Charged is a show Hidalgo hasn’t seen. We have a strong man, Battulga Battogtokh, he is a direct descendent of Genghis Khan. He balances telephone poles around his body and juggles bowling balls.”

The show also includes a knife-throwing act and acrobats in a Motorcycle Globe, both conducted by the Lopez Troupe. The show also has a father and son comedy performance by Victor and Anton Franke. Kelley said the show is all about high power and high energy and just doesn’t stop.

Kelley has spent the last 20 years performing, and he started with the Ringling Bros. circus in 2002. He has also spent time performing in Orlando after taking a brief hiatus from the show. But he missed the circus and is now excited to be part of the brand new show.

“I get paid to do what I love, I love the touring aspect and I’m in a new city every week….It’s never boring,” Kelley said. “Getting to perform for people, it’s what I love to do, it’s my passion.”

The circus arrived Thursday for their opening performance. Though there are other circuses in the country, Kelley says the Ringling Bros. has 144 years of experience that helps create a remarkable show.

Kelley not only performs during the circus but also hosts an all access pre-show for attendees. The pre-show is free with a ticket an hour prior to the circus. Fans are able to visit on the arena floor with animals, try on costumes, receive autographs and pictures and take a backstage tour.

“The show is something families can go to and do together. It truly is for children of all ages,” Kelley said. “We can keep you entertained for three hours, you leave your personal lives out of the show. We bring (the fans) into our world.”

20130719 Ringling-Bros Smaha-TroupeAs the pre-show host and clown, Kelley has tricks of his own. Some of his talents include: juggling, stilt walking, unicycle riding, balancing and spinning objects and making sound effects. He adds one of his favorite things to perform his is balancing act on a rolling globe that is three feet wide.

The show includes acrobats from Russia, and multiple animal acts, including dogs, camels, elephants, and horses. With a total crew and performer roster of over 100 people, Kelley doesn’t see any other show or place to work for.

“It is very humbling now. Other kids wanted to be fire fighters or police officers…I wanted to be a clown,” Kelley said. “Now, people come to me and say they want to be a clown. It is really cool when someone says ‘I want to be in a circus because of you’.”

Performances will be held on July 19 at 7:30 p.m., on July 20 at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and on July 21 at 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. For ticket information, call 1-800-745-3000 or purchase tickets online at

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CoverageAreaThe Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.

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