BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The big top is back in Biloxi. The Cole Brothers Circus of the Stars raised the tent Monday morning in preparation for four shows over the two-day run on the grounds of the Coast Coliseum and Convention Center.
Cole Brothers claims to be the largest circus in the world under the big top. Not only does that mean plenty of entertainment, it also means plenty of work.
Ringmaster Chris Connors said it's all worth it to bring this show to Biloxi each year. He feels a strong connection with the coast.
"We were the first circus to come down to the Gulf Coast area right after Katrina," said Connors.
While many other stops across the region were canceled because of the hurricane nine years ago, there was one that remained on schedule. Everyone wanted to bring a little joy back to the devastated area, so the show had to go on.
"We came here, right on this spot, and wow were the people happy to see us," said Connors.
The spirit that locals showed to the performers and the crew is the kind of spirit that it takes to get this show off the ground.
"There were no blinders, it was just everybody helps each other for the common good, and for us the common good is creating this family entertainment for everybody here," said Marketing Director Chad Ridge.
Building this entertainment venue from the ground up is not a simple task. From the time the 10-month tour starts, the work lasts virtually 24 hours a day.
"The guys started working this morning at 5am, driving stakes, laying things out," said Ridge.
All 85 traveling members pitch in to get the job done, including the performers. One of those is the show's human cannonball, Dale Thomsen. This is his first trip to Biloxi, but it's not the first time he's been to the coast.
"I actually fell in love with it. I love the Southern hospitality," said Thomsen.
It's that Southern hospitality that keeps the ringmaster coming back year after year. He said he loves getting to know the people who come to the shows.
"They come here, they come up to me like I'm a brother, like a son, a good friend they've known for many years and it's great. It's a great feeling," said Connors.
It takes at least five hours to raise the tent and set up for the show. There are two performances Monday night and Tuesday night.
This tour is a part of the 130th anniversary for the Cole Brothers. For more information, including a link to buy tickets, visit www.gotothecircus.com