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Workers raise tents for the circus

By Staff
ELEPHANT WATCH A group of children and adults gaze Saturday at Tina, one three elephants that perform at the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus. The children and adults toured the circus grounds while workers raised the five-story circus tent in the background. Photo by Fredie Carmichael/The Meridian Star
By Fredie Carmichael/The Meridian Star
Oct. 28, 2001
As a brisk, cold wind blew across the south parking lot of Bonita Lakes Mall early Saturday, about 200 people joined forces to raise a five-story, red and yellow circus tent.
For the men, though, the four-hour chore that began at 6 a.m. was just another day on the job a day in the life of workers at the traveling Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus.
The Clyde Beatty Cole-Bros. Circus, which bills itself as "the world's largest circus under the big top," arrived in Meridian early Saturday for a two-day run at the mall. The 117-year-old circus' final performances are 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. today.
When most people think of a circus, the first thing that comes to mind are animals, acrobats and clowns. But a traveling circus like the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. has more including a staff of hundreds that work and live behind the scenes and on the road.
Days start early
While most of the circus staff worked feverishly Saturday morning to raise the tent in time for the afternoon shows, performers and animal trainers were just starting to roll out of their beds in the circus' campers.
Others began preparing the real stars of the circus the animals, including three, 8,000-pound elephants. Adam Hill, superintendent of the elephants, said caring for them is like caring for a child.
Hill grew up in a circus family, where he developed a love for elephants. Hill said his parents "had elephants and when you have elephants you either work for a circus or have your own."
Family travels together
Ted McRae, the circus' lion tamer, slept just three hours Saturday morning before he had to wake and begin his workday. McRae had his family with him including his wife, Renee, and their three children, Jordan, Dorian and Adrian.
McRae, a former administrator for a trucking firm, said he doesn't see himself changing careers anytime soon. The job stays fresh and never gets old, McRae said.
Fredie Carmichael is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3228, or e-mail him at