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Kalamazoo Gazette
April 7, 1985
by Bob Cunningham
Gazette Correspondent

 

Hartford native is big top ambassador
 

     It might not have had much effect on the balance-of-payments, but veteran circus ringmaster Jon Friday did his share of foreign trade recently with a two-month performance in Osaka, Japan.
Jon Friday - Ringmaster from Hartford MI     Friday, a Hartford native, has been under the big top for the past 32 years, since he hit the sawdust trail as a trapeze and tight wire artist with the Kelly-Morris Circus during the summer months while still in high school. Jon Friday - Trapeze Artist from Hartford MI
     The trek to Japan saw Friday's current circus troupe - billed by promoters as "American Entertainment" - put on 150 performances between Dec. 23 and Feb. 12.  That's three or four performances each day, he said, compared to the usual two daily performances on the American circuit.
    "And always to a full house," Friday said. "We must have set some sort of record."
     Although the Japanese have their own circuses, he said, there is "nothing like the range of wild animal and other acts that you see in an American Circus." The traditional Japanese circus relies heavily on music, dance, acrobatics and gymnastics, according to Friday.
     Friday said the troupe received more standing ovations than would normally be expected.
     "The children were given American flags to wave at the performers," he said. "It was really something to see. They waved them almost continuously."
     The circus acts that traveled to Japan were all hand-picked for their traditional American flavor, Friday said.
     Friday was picked to be the ring-master, he said, because of his large, six-foot frame and deep resonate voice. "I guess I looked and sounded like a ringmaster," Friday said.
     Friday is a 1957 graduate of Michigan State University, where he majored in communications. He was attracted to the circus when he was only eight years old, he said, and rigged a homemade trapeze in his father's barn.
     Later he bought professional equipment and turned his boyhood dream into an adult's reality.  "It's still as exciting as ever, " he said of his current circus work. "I hope to go back to Japan again next winter ."

NOTE:  John was a 1953 Hartford High School graduate.  He was the son of Dave and Beverly FridayJon passed away March 19, 1992.
 

August 2009  - Article submitted by Donnalee Kabel Houser HHS 1953


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A Pictorial History of Hartford, Michigan
Emma Thornburg Sefcik,
Competent Secretarial Service
Copyright 2000 - All rights reserved.


Revised: March 20, 2014