Audience gets close-up view of circus

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal; Photos by Deste Lee

TUPELO – Larrmyne, 5, and Emaleigh Smith, 3, both of Oxford, waited for about 30 minutes to get into the BancorpSouth Arena on Thursday.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s “Illuscination” began at 7 p.m., but they wanted to get in when the doors opened at 6 p.m. to take part in the pre-show.
“We heard about the pre-show on the radio,” said their mother, Raina Smith.
The first thing they did was sign up to win a footprint by Susie the elephant, then Dean the orange-haired clown in red suspenders invited all the early arrivals to sit on “the ring curb.” A parade of jugglers, acrobats, clowns and other performers got up close and personal with the crowd.
Larrmyne and Emaleigh both put out their arms to hold Jinx the macaw. Emaleigh made like she was going to kiss the bird, but thought better of it at the last second.
A few feet away, 8-year-old Julie Stepp of Ecru admired herself in a mirror after Wiolny Neves and Viktoriya Medeiros helped her into a shiny circus costume. When asked if she was ready to run off with the circus, Julie gave a hesitant nod. She has time to think about her decision because “Illuscination” will be in town until Sunday.
Neves said meeting audience members like Julie makes it more fun for the performers during the show.
“They met us, and we meet them,” she said. “Then they say, ‘I know them.’”
Mary Carrson Sandlin, 4, was perched on top of her dad’s shoulders. Robby Sandlin of Saltillo was a sport, even after Mary Carrson bopped him on the head with her pink plastic wand with the spinning light on top.
Stacey Sandlin was looking out for her husband, and took the wand away. Mary Carrson must’ve been highly entertained by everything around her because she didn’t register a protest.
Nathan Pickle, a 14-year-old Smithville resident, might be circus material someday. A bunch of peacock feathers were handed out to the crowd, and he showed off his balancing skills.
“It’s easy,” he said. “I could do better if I had more space.”
To prove his point, he accidentally hit another audience member on the head with the feather. She didn’t mind, and at least she didn’t have to deal with Mary Carrson’s plastic wand.

Show times
– What: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s “Illuscination”
– When: 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. today; 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday; and 2 p.m. Sunday
– Where: BancorpSouth Arena, Tupelo
– Tickets: $12 to $35 at BancorpSouth
Arena box office, Ticketmaster at (800)
745-3000, and
– Extra: Lee County Sheriff’s Department will team up with the circus from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. today at the arena for a free fingerprinting ID program for children. Performers will entertain, and Susie the elephant will have her footprint made.

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