By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — Billy Martin’s Cole All-Star Circus is back in town with a show that combines traditions dating back 75 years with new energy.
The roaring performance was in Albion Thursday, drawing a crowd that filled the high school gymnasium for an evening of exciting acts and stunts. The circus will come to Medina tonight, with a pair of showtimes at 5 and 7:15 p.m. at the Wise Middle School Gym.
The Cole Circus has been coming to local schools for a quarter-century. Martin, who has been involved with the show since graduating a year early from high school in 1977, said it’s like seeing old friends when he arrives in town.
“I have friends in every spot,” Martin said. “You get to see families grow up and come back with their kids. It’s very rewarding.”
This year’s 18-man show features a variety of acts including returning favorites like Slinko, who celebrated his birthday with a routine set to Gangam Style; and the Daring and Lovely Angela, whose trapeze act had children alternating between holding their breath and cheering wildly.
New additions include the Sensational Sadrak, a contortionist who fit himself into a small glass box.
“Every show, every gym is different,” Martin said. “Every night is like opening night ... it never gets old. I know exactly what’s coming but I see get to see how all the kids react.”
Each show benefits the local community, with 50 percent of the proceeds going directly to a charity or group. In Albion, students participating in Close Up, a five-day class trip to Washington, were the beneficiary. In Medina, the two shows will raise money for the Jade Twig Association.
“The circus is wonderful at supporting student groups,” Albion Superintendent Michael Bonnewell said. “They come and entertain us and support us as well.”
The circus kicked off at the start of the year, beginning a season that will stretch into May with shows across New York and northern Pennsylvania. The circus dates back to 1938, when showman James M. Cole began taking his act to local schools for the first of 50 seasons. Martin has carried on the traditions set by Cole for 25 years.
“Its a family entertainment extravaganza,” Martin exclaimed, “An affordable fun, wintertime tradition.”
Children 12 years and under receive free admission when accompanied by an adult. Adult tickets can be purchased at the show for $15 — although a $5 off coupon was in yesterday’s Journal-Register.Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.