LEWISTON — Lugnut the clown threw so many high-fives outside the Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Friday afternoon, he had to switch from his right hand to his left.

“Whoo,” he told one boy, who had thrown a particularly enthusiastic palm. “My arm’s getting tired.”

The Kora Shrine Circus is back in town and everybody loves a clown.

Nearly everybody, at any rate. While his wife and kids were mingling with a huddle of bright-faced clowns, Raymond Landry was keeping his distance.

“I don’t like clowns,” he said. “I never had a problem with them, you know, until I saw the movie “It.”

Other than that, it was a full-on love fest as the circus opened its doors on a world of high excitement. All of the usual suspects were there: the clowns, the acrobats, the animals growling in their cages.

“I like everything about this circus,” said Nichole Landry, who had a daughter, a son and a niece in tow. “The clowns are awesome.”

Jingo the clown (who, beneath the paint, is former Lewiston City Administrator Jim Bennett) was pushing a battered shopping cart back and forth. When a pair of boys asked what it was for, Jingo told them the cart was his skateboard.

“A regular skateboard is too little for my feet,” he said. “So I use this.”

Three-year-old Charlie Moore was introduced to a clown named Polo just outside the Colisee doors. Charlie didn’t hesitate as some kids do. He barreled right into the clown and when a palm was offered, Charlie swatted it.

“He’s a pretty easygoing kid,” said Joyce Dill, Charlie’s grandmother. “Plus, he just woke up.”

Dill, of Pittston, is no stranger to the circus, but this was her first visit to the Lewiston version.

“I always look forward to the animals,” she said.

The animals, as it turns out, were waiting in the ring, under the care of The Beast Master Vincent Von Duke & His Performing Tigers. Or, as the Shriner literature put it: “Snarling, Striped, Sinister and Savage Ferociously Fanged Felines.”

But before any of the acts got underway, there were the preliminaries: clowns twisting balloons into exotic shapes, kids wheeling in the bleachers with glowing toy swords; the eager devouring of popcorn and cotton candy.

Even Raymond Landry seemed to be putting his aversion to clowns behind him. You know. For the children.

“There’s just so much,” he said, “for the kids to enjoy.”

What: 63rd Annual Kora Shrine Circus

Where: Androscoggin Bank Colisee

When: 9:30 a.m., 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, April 16. Doors open one hour before showtime.

Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for children under 12. Can be purchased at the door.

Info: korashriners.org/Shrine-Circus/Shrine-Circus/


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