By Richard Yeakley
When it comes to Carson and Barnes Circus, the elephants are the star of the show.
"That still seems to be the No. 1 attraction," said circus manager Kristin Parra.
"We also have the motorcycles in the globe of death. We have a magic act where they do the quick change pose. It is fantastic.
"We have horses and ponies and jugglers. Everything you would find at a traditional service, you will find it right here," she said.
The circus raised its tent Tuesday for a two-day stop at the Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center in Longview. The first performances were Tuesday, and the two-hour show continues at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. today.
Before the first show Tuesday, the pachyderms received a little pampering for a crowd to appreciate.
"This is one of the few places where you can actually come out and ride one of the elephants, and when you ride one of those elephants, part of the proceeds go to an elephant conservation in Hugo, Oklahoma," Parra said.
The gentle giants stirred elephant-sized excitement as the families gathered to watch them get a bath.
"We could take a ride on the elephants, and we could see the whole universe," said Olaedo Ibeh, 6.
Olaedo and her brother Uchenna, 5, were brought by their mom, Pamela Ibeh.
"We came to see the washing of the elephants, and we will come back tonight," Ibeh said.
Charles Colclasure of Longview brought three children to watch the elephants being bathed. The baths were supposed to be done by members of the Longview Fire Department, but a fire called the firefighters away.
"(The elephants) seem to be OK; they seem to enjoy it. (My daughter) seems to be more worried about the horses," Colclasure said.
Carson and Barnes' focus on the elephants comes as circus juggernaut Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced this month it would phase elephants out of its act by 2018.
The decision came after years of protest from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals about the nature of the elephants' treatment.
"We are proud of the way we treat our animals," Parra said.
"We welcome anyone to come out and look at them themselves, and what we are doing is not in response to any decision made by Ringling," she said.
Tickets for the circus are $16 for an adult, and includes admission for one child; or $10 for children younger than 12.