The circus was…just a circus

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

 Despite preliminary controversies, show in Palos Hills was uneventful

 It turned out to be a typical circus after all.CIRCUS-COLOR-3-col-perfomerA circus performer smiles during the opening act. The first performance went off without controversy despite some drama in the weeks leading up to it.

  The Carson & Barnes Circus put on four shows in Palos Hills earlier this week and if Monday’s first show was any indication, the circus was just a circus one would expect complete with clowns, animal tricks, singing and high flying stunts.
  The controversy the weeks leading up to the event were a lot more dramatic.
  The circus planned on a special segment with a candlelight vigil and information about sexual assault victims and other victims under the title “Survivors Under the Stars’’ to benefit the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
  Jacque Hollinder, who said she is a victim of sexual assault and filed a lawsuit that she was attacked by singer James Brown, organized that segment, which has been a part of various stops along the circus’s tour this year. T-shirts were to be sold to benefit the victims.
CIRCUS-COLOR-3-col-specatorsPalos Hills’ Gail Livigni and Mia Chieco watch the Carson & Barnes Circus during Monday afternoon’s performance.  City officials were not aware that it was a part of the entertainment until reading stories and seeing ads in the Reporter and Regional News and wanted that taken out, deeming it inappropriate for a family circus.
  After the city negotiated with the circus, the vigil and victims portion of the show was taken out in Palos Hills but Hollinder’s song “I Am the Circus” was allowed to be sung by trapeze artist Franchesca Cavallini. Children and parents were allowed to parade in the ring and outside the ring while the song was performed but there was no mention of ICASA or victims.
  Hollinder said she saw a lot of police presence and assumed it was for her but she said she had no plans of making trouble and said she would conform to the city’s wishes.
  “It’s sad we weren’t able to do the full presentation,” Hollinder said. “But I’ll do what I’m told.’’
  That was one problem solved but the city also received letters from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals urging city officials to either cancel the circus or to not allow it to return next year, citing cruelty to the elephants in previous stops.
  There were no protesters from PETA seen during Monday’s first performance.
  For some people, the controversies were not a factor in coming to see the show.
  Gail Livigni of Homer Glen was with her nieces Eva, Mia and Olivia and sister-in-law Maria from Palos Heights.
  “I heard about the controversy but I didn’t pay attention,” she said. “No matter what happened I was going to come and bring the kids.’’
  The circus is now in Steger and has future stops in the Stickney-Cicero area and Wilmington.

Photos by Jeff Vorva