Thrills, chills highlight circus Visit

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:15

    WEST MILFORD- For two days this week, lions and tigers once again prowled the area abutting Greenwood Airport. Cole Brothers Circus came to the former Jungle Habitat property for two days starting Tuesday, Sept. 7. Even though local students had an early school start, they had an extra day to thrill to lions, tigers, circus clowns and all the other trappings of what is billed as the largest remaining traveling circus in the country. More than 2,800 students and adults from Passaic and Sussex Counties showed up at the old Jungle Habitat property on Wednesday to see the circus. Some of the show favorites include Chris Connors, ringmaster of the three-ring circus, Cheryl Haddad and the Marcan Tigers, The Kim Family, jugglers and equine acrobats, and the Clowns. Connors, originally from Newburg, N.Y., said he always loved the circus as a child and became close with some professional circus clowns. One clown and later ringmaster, Jim James, who he refers to as "Uncle Jim" helped get him started in the business. Chris took the ringmaster's job when James retired. When asked about the toughest part of the job, he said, " I miss being in one place. I'm on the road 52 weeks per year. I always love coming back this way because I get to see my family. "It is very special for me to come and perform in West Milford. Even though I travel all around the world, it's great to come back to this area. I remember, as a child, packing in a station wagon with my relatives to come to Jungle Habitat. I have very fond memories of West Milford and this property." Haddad, who has been training tigers for 14 years behind the scenes and is now in the ring as a tiger presenter, says although she doesn't get nervous she has "a great respect for the tigers because I have raised them since they were born." Karen Grohsman of West Milford said the reason she came to the circus was to "get out and have fun. My favorite act is the big cats. I have always loved watching the tigers, because I know I can't have one." Allison Buske of West Milford said, "My favorite part of the circus is the tigers and the clowns." When asked if she would ever want to be a clown and join the circus her reply was: "Even though I like clowns the thought of joining the circus to be a clown is a little scary." The Kim family and several clowns could be seen before the performances juggling and doing tricks outside for the children. Tommy and Jamie Quigley of West Milford "really loved" when the Kim brothers started juggling around them outside before the circus started. "It was really great and I couldn't believe they did that. Wow." Cub Scout Sal Schimmenti, who helped raise the flag at the opening ceremony, said his favorite act was the Kim Brothers. Asked if he'd rather go to the circus or to school everyday, his reply was, "The circus of course."