It's all one great big circus

Headed to Clown College


At 100 years and counting, the sights and sounds of "The Greatest Show On Earth" never cease to amaze. As the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus' touring production "Dragon" hits its stride in "Charm City," the excitement, costumes and high flying acrobatics bring a little something for all.

But while the show may evolve with time, some characters are circus staples. When the clowns come to town, we all become kids again.

"A lot of people just think we go out there and jump around," said Andrew Hicks. "But we have to all have a specific clown character."

Hicks has been a Ringling Bros. clown for three years, but it was the job he knew wanted since he was a kid. "I'm a clown through and through," he said. "A clown is an extension of your own self. I'm Andrew Hicks. As a clown, I'm just Andrew the Clown."

And to be chosen as one of the few clowns for this circus, Hicks knew it was a tough competition.

"Ringling Bros. clowns are considered the best in the world," he said. "It has been said that it is harder to become a clown here than it is to be a quarterback in the NFL."

We caught up with Hicks and his fellow clowns, putting on an impromptu show for kids at First Mariner Arena. The event included juggling, a few falls and some lessons is proper clowning. In the end, who knows? Maybe Hicks and his band of clowns inspired one the kids to follow in his oversized footsteps.

The circus tours 11 months out of the year. Hicks says the majority of the performers live on the mile long train, each with their own furnished apartment.

"Dragon" wraps up in Baltimore April 7.

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