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America Supports You: Fort Myer Kids Get to Clown Around

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

FORT MYER, Va., April 7, 2008 – Children normally are told to quit clowning around, but today it was actually encouraged, as clowns from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus entertained more than 100 youngsters at the child development center here.

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More than 100 children from the child development center on Fort Myer, Va., enjoy a performance by members of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, April 7, 2008. These four, from left, Ryan Cline, 2, Madeline Fontana, 5, Jaylen Wright, 4, and Liam Ryan, 4, got a chance to be part of the action. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley, Department of Defense
  

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“This is a great for our families,” said Army Col. Laura Richardson, garrison commander for the Fort Myer military community. “To be able to bring an activity like this … is awesome.”

Deployed troops, the ranks of whom include her husband, love to hear about events like this one, the colonel said.

“This is great stuff for out troops that are deployed, knowing that their families are getting to see things and have opportunities like this,” Richardson said. “It’s a win-win all the way around.”

For an hour, the children participated in antics dreamed up by the clowns, acrobats and dancers. They stood bravely between two of the tricksters while bowling pins flew over their heads during a juggling demonstration.

The giggles got even louder when the ones who had to be brave were some of their favorite adults who, at one point, had an acrobat flying over them.

Not everyone was as enamored with the red noses and floppy shoes as their classmates. Gavin Baltes, 2, found the whole thing a bit overwhelming and spent most of the show watching his classmates’ reactions over a caregiver’s shoulder.

By the end, however, everyone was smiling and dancing. During the “Bellobration,” a dance named for one of Ringling’s favorite sons, Bello the clown, the children and adults alike followed along as the entertainers led them through the moves.

Then it was back to their classrooms with big smiles on their faces.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, which is currently performing at George Mason University’s Patriot Center, is a corporate supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting servicemembers and their families.

“We’re grateful to Ringling Brothers for the great experience they are bringing to the children at Fort Myer,” said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary for internal communication and public liaison. (Also) for their continued commitment to America Supports You, as they bring laughter and smiles to the faces of our military children during April’s ‘Month of the Military Child’ celebration.”

Featuring a few veterans, the circus salutes the military and America Supports You during every performance, Barber said.

“This is a first for us to bring (the circus) to the day care here at Fort Myer,” she said, adding. “They’ve said, ‘Whatever we can do for the military community is what we want to do.’”

It’s important to recognize the service and commitment of the military member, the military spouse and the children whose parents are serving, Barber said.

“We try to put a lot of energy and lift into saying to the boys and girls, ‘You know, you’re serving, too. It’s different, (but) every time your mom or dad misses your soccer game or your ballet recital, that’s a sacrifice, too,’” she added.

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Biographies:
Allison Barber

Related Sites:
America Supports You
Fort Myer, Va.


Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Col. Laura Richardson, garrison commander for the Fort Myer military community, greets her young guests in the gym of the post's child development center on April 7, 2008. The children were gathered to enjoy a performance by members of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley, Department of Defense  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAllison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and public liaison, greets children gathered for a performance by members of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, April 7, 2008, at the Fort Myer, Va., child development center. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley, Department of Defense  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageLily Holt, left, and Gabrielle Gilbert, right, watch Terence Murchison play with his "America Supports You" sticker April 7, 2008. The 2-year-old classmates at the Fort Myer, Va., child development center attended the "Bellobration" show put on by members of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley, Department of Defense  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageJeffrey Pazzanti, left center, and his classmate, Liam Ryan, right center, both 4, applaud the antics of the clowns performing as part of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus "Bellobration" performance at the Fort Myer, Va., child development center, April 7, 2008. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley, Department of Defense  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageChildren from the child development center on Fort Myer, Va., and their caregivers enjoy a performance by members of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, April 7, 2008. The event was held at the center in honor of April's designation as "Month of the Military Child." Photo by Samantha L. Quigley, Department of Defense  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageGavin Baltes, 2, found some parts of the performance by members of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus a little overwhelming. Gavin and more than 100 other youngsters from the Fort Myer, Va., child development center enjoyed the April 7, 2008, performance in honor of April's designation as "Month of the Military Child." Photo by Samantha L. Quigley, Department of Defense  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageNatalie Steinbach, 3, returns a prop to Larry the clown after it rolled up to her during a performance by members of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. More than 100 children who attend the child development center on Fort Myer, Va., got a chance to watch the hour-long show April 7, 2008. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley, Department of Defense  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageTandy Greer, center, a pre-school caregiver at the Fort Myer, Va., child development center, gets in on the act as an acrobat flies over her and two other entertainers during a performance by members of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus on the post April 7, 2008. The performance was part of Fort Myer's "Month of the Military Child" celebration. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley, Department of Defense  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageLiam Ryan, 4, a student at the child development center on Fort Myer, Va., greets a circus performer April 7, 2008. Members of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus entertained more than 100 children from the center as part of Fort Myer's celebration of "Month of the Military Child." Photo by Samantha L. Quigley, Department of Defense  
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