The Cole All-Star Circus, heading to Schroon Lake Central School next week, has strong, historic ties to New York. The Big Shown was founded in 1938 by legendary showman James M. Cole, born and raised in Penn Yan, New York.
James was just 11 when he began his show business career as a "program boy," passing out playbills at the Smith Opera House in Geneva, NY. After graduating high school he joined the Walter L. Main Railroad Circus in 1924. Throughout his amazing tenure in show business, he managed many major touring circuses, owned and operated his own big top show, toured the nation with his famous performing elephants, and became a circus legend. Fun fact: The Cole All-Star Circus began as a school workshop project; Mr. Cole provided the acts, and the schools provided the rest: the art classes designed and crafted the posters, the band classes provided the music for the show, the gym classes served as stage hands. The show became a popular tradition throughout New York State and Pennsylvania. He retired in 1987, completing his 50th annual tour of the Cole All-Star Circus.
Enter Billy Martin, just 12 years old when he met Cole in 1972. The indoor circus performed at his hometown school in Olean, NY. His fascination with the circus evolved into a wonderful friendship with Cole, and at age 14, he began booking many schools for the circus throughout Western New York. After graduating high school in 1977, it was only logical he join the Cole Circus. He performed a juggling/balancing act, served as ringmaster, and became Mr. Cole's right hand man. When Mr. Cole retired at the age of 80, Billy took over the show and remains at its helm today.
From Wendy Sargent, from the Schroon Lake Central School:
“What could be more fun than a good, old fashioned CIRCUS?!!! A great evening for all kids, young and old!!! Break that "Cabin Fever", come on out and enjoy the show Pre- sale tickets are $10.00 for Adults; children 12 and under are Free with a paying adult, limit two free children per Adult. Adult door sale tickets will be $15.00. Tickets can be bought from a Senior Class of 2016 member, sent in with an SLCS elementary student or from the main school office, Terri Barror will have them available.