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Circus performers get back on stage for first time in over a year

Tonight is the debut for the Carden International Circus in Tyler
Updated: Apr. 16, 2021 at 7:22 AM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Friday is the debut for the Carden International Circus in Tyler. For many of the performers, this is their first week back working the circus stage in over a year.

We spoke with Joey Frisco, one of the elephant trainers with the circus, and he tells us they’re relieved to be doing what they love again. Frisco is one of the performers who had to take up extra work not only to provide for his family, but the elephants, too.

“We’re just happy to be back out and go into our first couple of weeks of the season,” said Frisco.

Frisco has been working alongside the elephants since he was just 21 years old. The pandemic forced the circus to close it’s curtains last year, so he was forced to leave his family and elephants to begin working full time on the roads as a CDL driver.

“You miss being around them because you’re traveling around so much and you’re doing so many different things, said Frisco.” “I don’t get to spend as much time with them.”

He’s back now with the elephants, Janice and Cindy. He says while he was away the elephants were taken care of by their owners who are also trainers -- but he isn’t the only one who had to step back from the circus and take up extra work to feed their families and provide for the animals.

Brett Carden has worked inside the Carden International Circus walls his whole life with his father. “We started a trucking company and we’ve been doing all sorts of stuff. Cleaning houses, flipping houses and selling houses and remodeling houses,” said Carden. “[We’re] just doing anything and everything we can to survive during this time.”

He tells us although they’re glad they’re able to open up again, the pandemic still delayed their tour. This is because they have performers coming in from around the world, and it was difficult getting work visas with the traveling restrictions in place at the beginning of the year.

“This year they actually stalled us out for a while and we didn’t get them until like March,” according to Carden.

Now, they’re finally on the road again. Today is their debut in East Texas beginning tonight at 7 P.M. at the Oil Palace in Tyler. You can buy tickets online or when you get to the gate.

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