COVID-19 causes big changes for Oklahoma circus
MIAMI, Ok. – The staff of Circus Funtastic was hard at work Friday afternoon setting up for their big show at the Miami Civic Center.
They shut down the act back in March because of COVID-19 but started things up again so the circus’ many foreign employees could earn money and feed their families.
“Because our performers and workers are foreign, they’re not able to collect any sort of unemployment or anything like that, and so after four months, we decided it was worth a try to see if we could generate some income, at least to feed ourselves,” said Ringmaster Susan Vonderheid.
“We’ve been looking for other jobs but that’s not what we do. So when we heard that we can work again on the same thing that we do, it was pretty awesome actually,” said circus sound technician Chris Selva.
The Funtastic family is thrilled to be back together but acknowledges the major changes caused by COVID-19. For starters, instead of touring the country, they’re sticking to Oklahoma.
“We are based out of Oklahoma, so this territory that we know and are familiar with, and we’re close to home. If things didn’t work out, we can always just go back home,” said Vonderheid.
Vonderheid also says the Coronavirus has caused their typical crowds to shrink.
“People that come out really enjoy the show and are very glad that they did, but I think it’s kind of a mixture of not knowing we’re here and fear,” said Vonderheid.
The circus is also operating at a diminished capacity, replacing it’s animal acts with a performing Transformer robot, and working locations like the Miami Civic Center instead or working under their big top tent.
Other changes associated with the pandemic include face masks on the employees interacting with guests and mandatory use of hand sanitizer to enter.
The staff says they hope to get the full show back soon, but are still thrilled to be doing what they love, and they say their guests are showing them love in return.
“Everyone is very happy. The other night my boyfriend went to sell a one dollar cotton candy, and the guy slammed down a twenty and said, ‘No buddy, you keep that because that was awesome,'” said Vonderheid.