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Circus Trivia

The clown in the Great Y Circus logo is “Brandy” Brandenberger who performed with the circus through the ’50s and ’60s.

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1971, the 33rd Edition of the Great Y Circus saw the introduction of unicycles to the acts. Eleven unicyclists made their debut, trained by Warren Wood.

The title “The Great “Y’ Circus” first appeared in the program for the 1939 show—the first year circus ran for two days.

Roy Coble started the circus as a fundraiser for Camp Edwards, the YMCA’s mountain retreat in the San Bernardino Mountains.

1951 was the first year that the Great Y Circus performed the “Spanish Webs”—an act where performers execute graceful manuevers high on a hanging rope.

Today’s leotard is named after nineteenth-century French circus acrobat Jules Léotard, the first to do an aerial somersault.

The costume department started in 1975 with three shirts and two sets of tights.There are more than 3,000 items in inventory with more than 800 costumes in the 2005 “Carnavale” performance.

Unicycling peaked in 1981 with 83 unicyclists performing that year. The smallest unicycle wheel ridden in the Great Y Circus is only 3 1/2 inches in diameter.The largest is almost 56 inches in diameter.

The word clown is probably from the Scandinavian word “klunni” meaning clumsy person.

Beginning in 1971, the Great Y Circus initiated “Handstand Awards” to those who could hold 3 consecutive handstands for 10 seconds each without walking on the hands within a 5 minute period.

The original circus mats were filled with horse hair. Three-inch thick foam is now used.

Current and alumni circus members have performed nationally and overseas, in hundreds of private and public venues.

The Russian Swing made its first appearance ever in the Great Y Circus in 2003.

The Romans invented the circus.The word itself is Latin, and means “circle” or “ring.” However, unlike today’s events, early Roman circuses were brutal, deadly spectacles with chariot races and fights.

Trampoline comes from the Spanish word “trampolín,” meaning “springboard.”

George Nissen invented the trampoline when he observed performers jumping on the safety net at the circus.

In 1974, the 34th Edition of the Great Y Circus, saw the first juggling act.

Clowns in the Roman circus, like clowns of today,wore goofy clothes and loads of makeup.They engaged in all sorts of antics, including making jokes about people in the stands and throwing things at them.

The introduction of “rolling globes” was back in 1972, the 34th Edition of the Great Y Circus.