April 7, 1985
by Bob Cunningham
Hartford native is big top
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,
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.
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
"And always to a full house," Friday said. "We must have set some sort
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
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
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 ."
1953 Hartford High School graduate. He was the son of
Dave and Beverly Friday.
Jon passed away
March 19, 1992.