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Y Circus History

Founded in 1929 by YMCA Director Roy Coble, a former Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey performer, the Great Y Circus is a unique tradition in Redlands, California. It is the oldest community circus in the world and one of only six programs like it in the United States.The Great Y Circus started small and has grown tremendously throughout the years. This year, over 300 children of all ages learned circus skills in classes that were held at the YMCA from September through April.Small performances are given throughout the year before a variety of audiences, and our end-of-season show is held on the first three weekends of May in Coble Gym at the Redlands YMCA. Learn more about the Great Y Circus tradition - Click Here

Circus Awards

Each year, the Great Y Circus gives out awards to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of participants who go the extra mile or who have made special achievements within the program. Many of the Circus Awards have certain historical, personal and sentimental significance, including:

The Family Award goes to a family who is involved in and dedicated to supporting all aspects of the circus program throughout the year: performing, training, volunteering, etc.

The Bob Bologna Parent Volunteer Award is awarded to a parent volunteer who has shown unselfish devotion to and support of the Y Circus program throughout the year.

The Karen Jacobs Memorial Award is for an individual who has shown optimism, continued dedication and perseverance in the face of great personal challenge.

The Showmanship Award is presented to a performer who demonstrates grace, enthusiasm and overall style at all times and under any circumstances while on stage.

The Brandenberger Award (“The Brandy”) is the highest award given in the Great Y Circus. It goes to a performer who has been in the program for at least 4 years, who has continually shown dedication and support of the program demonstrated by an outstanding ability to act, as well as work with performers, trainers and volunteers by striving to uphold the values and goals for the Great Y Circus, set forth by Roy Coble.

The Purple Heart pillow is given to those performers injured just prior to May’s show performance, and unable to perform due to their injuries.

To view the list of who has received awards in past years, please click on the year of your choice below: