John Ringling North II is an heir to the Ringling Brothers circus fame. His great uncle, Alfred T. Ringling once called Jefferson home on a 1,000 acre mansion still stands in town today. Ringling Manor is on the National Register of Historic Places and is therefore an important factor in the history of the town. As the great nephew of the famous Ringling brothers and also being the only living Ringling in the world to own a circus, John Ringling North II now possesses a key to the city of Jefferson Township, presented prior to a performance of the Kelly Miller Circus in town.

John Ringling North II is currently 76 years old and was born into the circus business. As a child, he performed as a clown and later as an assistant ringmaster. He eventually decided to take a 40-year break from the circus and moved to Ireland. This break from the business ended once he heard that this circus was for sale by David Rollins in 2006. Ringling stated that he was aware a Ringling brother lived in New Jersey but he did not know the specific location and he was surprised by the size of the mansion in town upon visiting it along with some of his circus crew. He stated that it is “unbelieveable” and also “an incredible honor” to be presented with the key to Jefferson Township. He also stated that he believes that the legacy of this circus will continue possibly through his two daughters and their interest in the business.

Following the presentation of the key, the show continued as usual first with a welcome from the ringmaster, who shockingly was suspended by her teeth alone. A motorcycle rider then balanced from amazing heights on a rope and even performed a 360-degree spin along with his assistant. The next act was from the Gypsy Rovers and included numerous dogs and a pony performing tricks such as jumping through hoops.

A humorous knife throwing display was next, where an audience member was selected, blindfolded, and handcuffed to a board in which a talented clown ‘threw’ knives at his body. The Mongolian Masters of Balance performed next in a breathtaking display of body strength. A hula-hoop act was next, where a woman displayed incredible skills of spinning hula-hoops on her body. The show continued with a zebra performing math problems by picking up numbered blocks with the correct answer. Beautiful aerial ballet was performed next by numerous women. Just before intermission, a talented performer, Lamount, displayed many tricks with fire.

At one point the show, viewers had the opportunity to buy a bag of peanuts and some of them had winning tickets which resulted in a prized balloon. The second half of the show began with a rope spinning act with increasingly longer ropes as the act progressed. A spotted mule named Rowdy was next and his act showed how a mule is trained or more appropriately, how a mule becomes the trainer. A duo performed tricks using feet next where one spun objects using their feet, as the other set some on fire. Clown Fajolino came back in the spotlight and performed a tossing act. Elephants Sydney and Jenny came out next for their act as they performed tricks along with riders on their backs. The finale of the show was a tribute to America with an array of American flags as each of the circus members came out into view.

Photo Gallery:

Click or tap photos to enlarge and read captions.