SARASOTA COUNTY - The circus is coming back to Venice. The goal is to continue the efforts to save the old arena once the winter home to the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus.
"They are cranking the handle and putting the big top up." 5 year old Jimmy Timpson comes to see the setup in the old K-mart parking lot. All ready for the show. "I'm going to come back and eat some cotton candy and get a balloon."
A history in Venice continuing. "The circus is back. That is what the people are already saying. Look, they all come around and they stop and this is the exciting thing of it." Putting up a big top to help save the old one nearby.
Former performer Tito Gaona and the Circus Arts Foundation are still raising money to help save the dilapidated former winter home. "My mission was to save something of the circus in Venice."
30% of ticket sales going to keep the rain from coming in and causing more damage says foundation director Orlando Bevington. "We are saving the arena by patching the holes in the roof right now. We need to raise $150,000."
Serge Landkas Coronas' family has been in the circus for generations and is putting on the performance. He says it's an important cause. "It has been the tradition. It was something we wanted to do. We have always wanted to help. We wanted to bring this new type of circus here to them."
A monumental task of saving the more than 50 year old 68,000 square foot facility. Nearly three years of raising funds in a down economy has not been easy they say. Bevington say they now plan to allow anyone to adopt a single square foot of the facility for $30. "If we sell every square foot of the arena site we will raise $12 million. That is our budget. That will save the arena."
Gaona says they're not going away anytime soon. "We don't stop. Other people would have stopped or quit. We don't."
Hoping to save a piece of Venice history one foot at a time for generations of circus lovers. Old and new. "Clowns with red noses. When you squeeze them they go honk, honk, honk," says Jimmy.
The tent will be up and ready for shows beginning January 10th running through the 27th. Tickets start at $15.