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Big top is a big hit at speedway

May 31, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

There was a man who juggled pingpong balls with his mouth and a woman who spun to the top of the big top by her hair, but it was the elephants that stole the show Friday night at the Kelly Miller Circus.

"I like the elephants," said Megan Deckert, 3, who was snacking on a favorite elephant treat, peanuts.

Megan was an experienced circus spectator compared with her grandmother, Mary Holder, 50, of Boonsboro. Holder was attending her first circus with her granddaughters, Megan and Kayla Payne, 2.

Megan even rode an elephant at last year's circus.

The Kelly Miller Circus, which performed two shows at the Hagerstown Speedway on Friday, has been coming to the local area for about nine years as a fund-raiser for the Western Maryland Troopers Association, officials said.

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The three elephants charmed the audience with an act that included the pachyderm version of the limbo. Two of the elephants crawled under the third, who was standing on top of two stools.

John Imes, 37, of Hagerstown, brought his children, Ashley, 5, and Eric, 7, to the circus for the third time.

Imes, who never had time to go to the circus when he was a child, said he got just as much of a kick out of the circus as his children.

But, he wasn't willing to ride the elephant like them.

Carmen Kelley, of Sharpsburg, attended her first circus and rode her first elephant Friday night thanks to her fiancee's nieces and nephews, including Ashley Stotler, 3. The ride was rough, but fun, said Kelley.

Kelley's fiancee, Les Stotler, wasn't as bold when it came to riding the elephants, which weighed up to 8,500 pounds each.

The evening's finale included a death-defying acrobatic act by the Perez brothers, Samuel and William.

The two stood in separate metal mesh wheels, which spun vertically to the top of the big top and back down to the main ring as they each walked in the wheels.

The brothers took turns running in their wheels, propelling the contraption to spin around, while the other did tricks inside or outside their wheels.

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