|City/Town: • Edmond|
|Location Class: • Amusement Park|
|Built: • 1900's | Abandoned: • N/A|
|Status: • Abandoned • Gutted|
|Photojournalist: • Michael Schwarz|
Heading down busy Kelly Ave in downtown Edmond, passing an Arby’s and a gas station, you wouldn’t think anything of the obscure dirt road blocked off by a yellow fence.
At first you may just notice a barren field and nothing else, but it doesn’t take long to realize the full history of this strange, abandoned plot. Concrete foundations checker the tan grass while rusty metal poles protrude out of the bushes and trees. There are several houses that have
long since been vacated and later vandalized by passers-by. Further into the acreage, hidden behind some thick brush, you’ll start getting an idea of what this place used to be.
Gandini’s Circus went on for some time between the 1900’s and 1930, touring across various parts of the states. Fragments of the circus still linger around including 4 or 5 trailers where the clowns, acrobats and animals were housed. Even the cages, large and small, are still there– discarded when the circus apparently disbanded. Although many of the trailers are burnt from the inside out by either arson or a terrible accident, you can still find fliers, popcorn bags and soda cups along with assorted pieces of memorabilia throughout the area.
What makes the area so spooky is not the place’s background, but it’s lack of obvious history. I’ve tried to search the Internet for information on the circus but could only find a few pages vaguely relating to what it was. Digging through the ashes in and around the trailers I was able to find a few old fliers in tact that shed some light on the place, but still not enough to make this area any less frightening.
The real scare comes at night, walking through this barren place, maybe tripping over an old cougar cage or deflated clown ball, when the full scope of what ‘haunted’ really boils down to. Afterall, there may be nothing more dreadful than a haunted circus burned to the ground. A place does not necessarily require ghosts to be haunted, but if it’s scary enough, maybe we’re the ones who create them.
-Written by Robert Cole
Pulled from here
Highlighted comment by CIRCUS KID with more details:
“Gandini’s Circus couldn’t make it thru the Great Depression. The assets were bought up by Howard W. Suesz in 1943 and a new circus was formed – CLYDE BROTHER’ CIRCUS. There were no Clydes. The production company operated inside (arena) and outside (tent) shows. In the late 40’s / early 50’s the tent show was called HAGEN BROTHERS (again, no Hagens). The Hagen show played up to the early 60’s. Howard Suesz focused almost exclusively on the Shriners Organization. By the mid 50’s the circus was playing a number of Canadian Shrine dates yearly. In 1960 the Clyde Brothers Circus had to change the name of it’s Canadian show to Rex Bros. Circus due to competition from the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus that also played in Ontario that year. Howard Suesz had a daughter who attended OSU. She met William Jack there. They were students of Dr. Robert Lacy, the head of the Radio and Television. After they graduated, William Jack began helping his father in law run the circus. In 1969, Dr. Lacy bought a half interest in the circus. At that time, the circus had its office on Britton Road, just east of Western. It later moved to the big White House at 63rd and Kelley. Lacy left the circus in 73 for other business ventures. From the late 60’s thru the mid 70’s Clyde Bros. Circus operated two units, the Red and the Blue and played a number of sponsored dates through Ontario, Quebec and the USA and ventured in to Mexico from time to time. In 1976 the Blue unit was the Clyde Bros. Circus and the Carden & Johnson International Circus was referred to as the Red unit. That year the Carden & Johnson International Circus bought the Clyde Bros. Circus and it’s contracted dates. It was after that the circus left town. Lion Trainer Jose Barrada ended up with the real estate Jose and his family operated the ALCAPULCO restaurant in Edmond for a while. Jose’s oldest son Jorge, got the property from his dad. The land has been seemingly abandoned for decades.
In the early 70’s, on the property, there were 6 elephants, 11 lions, 7 tigers, 3 camels, 3 bears, chimps, a herd of ponies and a herd llama, and numerous domestic pets. The lion trainer, Jose Barrada lived in the house with his wife and three sons. His two oldest sons, Jorge and Chino trained the chimps and bears. Chino was also an award winning tightrope performer. His wife had been an aerial performer. The tiger trainer, Lou Reagan lived in a trailer on premises. He also worked the elephants, camels, llamas and ponies. Other hired hands lived on premises. Two primary barns had three rings. Two in one and the tiger arena was in another. On the road, the majority of the acts were contracted for the season.”