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Fun under the Big Top returning to Monroeville

| Thursday, July 16, 2009, 12:00 p.m.

The circus will come to town this week for the first time in almost a half-century.

The Lewis and Clark Circus from South Carolina will stop at Monroeville Community Park East today and Friday.

Proceeds from the one-ring, European-style circus benefit various Rotary charities.

"Our ultimate goal is to give back to the community, but we wanted something different that could bring families out in this economic time," said Chuck DeSabato of Monroeville Rotary.

The first thing the Rotary had to do was persuade Monroeville Council to lift a 54-year-old ban on circuses in the municipality.

Sunrise Rotary President Ray Robinson, who first broached the idea of having a circus, said that after asking around, he found that apparently at a previous circus, an elephant got loose and knocked over a tent, injuring someone inside of it.

This circus won't have elephants.

But, there will be ample entertainment. Visitors will get to see traditional circus acts, including high-flying trapeze artists, acrobats, clowns, animal acts that include horses and camels, and a petting zoo.

Each 90-minute performance is held under a 100-foot by 70-foot tent that can accommodate about 900 people on seven sections of bleachers.

Performing in Pennsylvania is nothing new for Lewis and Clark, as the circus often works with nonprofit organizations to raise money, Al Rawlins of Lewis and Clark said.

"Our biggest sponsors are Rotaries and Kiwanis groups," he said.

Rotary charities include clean drinking water projects in Third World countries and polio eradication initiatives.

"You can bring your family out, eat and drink, and be entertained for an hour and a half for about $50," DeSabato said. I'm excited. It's a great thing."

Additional Information:

A wild time

What : Lewis and Clark Circus to benefit Rotary charities

When : Today and Friday. Shows begin at 5 and 7:30 p.m.

Where : Monroeville Community Park, 2399 Tilbrook Road, Monroeville

Tickets : Visit www.lewisandclarkcircus.com . Cost is $10 in advance; $15 at the gate.

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