FRANKFORD, NJ-The circus is coming to town. Skylands Stadium will be the site of the Cole Bros. circus under the big top. Billed as the world’s largest circus under the big top it is also one of the oldest. There will be shows on Saturday, July 5 at 6 p.m. and Sunday, July 6 at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m.
Ringmaster and Performance Director Chris Connors wears many hats in front of the audience introducing the acts and behind the scenes keeping the performers and props organized. Connors has had his dream job with Cole Bros for 13 years.
Begun in 1884 as the WW Cole’s New Colossal Shows, according to Cole Bros. Circus information, it was promoted as being “presented in a reputable manner by reputable people.” By 1915 the name had changed to Cole Bros Circus though it had been purchased by a Canadian father and son. It has gone through many changes over the decades. In the beginning the circus traveled by horse drawn cart, then railroad cars and now trucks. The tent, however, has remained a constant.
Under the Cole Bros tent there have been some of the most famous names in the circus including wild animal trainer Clyde Beatty, clown Emmett Kelly, even young Burt Lancaster who began his career in show business on the flying trapeze. Cole Bros Circus participated in President Harry Truman’s inaugural parade.
While their home base is in DeLand, Florida they travel the whole east coast bringing traditional family entertainment reflective of William Washington Cole’s initial promise made 130 years ago.
Sparta resident Andy Ball recently became the Director of Business Development for Skylands Stadium. His duties include event marketing and promotion, Business to Business connections and sponsorship acquisition and fulfillment. “I also listen to ideas from the community to develop what makes sense for family entertainment,” said Ball. “The owner, Al Dorso is nationally recognized in family fun and entertainment.”