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Big top' coming to Southwood

The hamlet of Southwood, located in the town of Onondaga, hasn't seen a circus in town since the early 80s.

"It used to be an annual event," said Chris Lail, resident and firefighter at Southwood Fire Department. He holds childhood memories of going to the circus with his brother but doesn't know why, or exactly when, the show stopped coming.

"I just remember looking forward to them every year," Lail said.

Due to some labor-intensive planning, the lull will be over come July. Lail took the lead as "ringmaster" and with the help of fellow firefighters and sponsors, organized the Oklahoma-based Kelly Miller Circus to perform in his hometown Saturday July 21.

What triggered the triumph? Lail said he saw the circus performing in Bridgeport last year, which prompted him to do some research.

"Before I brought it up to the fire department I called the town of Onondaga," Lail said. "I called everybody I could possibly think of to get permission and then I brought it up to the fire department. Everybody was very excited about it."

The event is being held as a fundraiser for the 20-member volunteer fire unit, but Lail's primary purpose for wanting to hold the show isn't about the money.

"Even if we didn't make a dime off this, I want to do it for the kids," he said.

Fortunately though, the department has found six sponsors to buy banners for the show, which allows the district some profits already. The rest will come through ticket sales. Lail said businesses or groups of people that don't want to attend the circus are encouraged to purchase tickets to donate towards children's groups or charities of their choice. The children would then get the opportunity for a day of fun they would otherwise miss.

The show will be set up in the Southwood Park located at the south end of Grace Place on Southwood Park Drive, the same road the fire station is found. Lail said the event would help "put us on the map a little bit."

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