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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Pilot People

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Clowning Couple

A lot of people like to travel when they retire, but it's few who make a point to visit over 200 towns each year, as Professor Carson and Barnesy the Clown do.

But that's OK for Jerry and Pat Milligan - a husband and wife duo in Storm Lake yesterday to promote next week's performance of the Carson & Barnes Circus.

They don't mind all the clowning around - even though yesterday was their 41st wedding anniversary.

"It's kind of special to be in Storm Lake today," said Professor Carson, also known as Jerry Milligan.

This is the couple's sixth year as traveling clowns, and before they joined in 1998 it was not part of either's professional lives. Jerry is a retired school superintendent from Bismark, Mo. He has 30 years of education experience, and his wife is a retired day care provider.

"Before the last six years, we probably only saw the circus twice in our lives - and one of those times it was Carson & Barnes," Jerry said.

It took a little prodding to get their children to accept that their parents were going to join the circus at first.

"I don't even need to describe the look on their faces when we first told them," Jerry said.

When the Milligans started, they planned to tour for two years. The circus alternates between the east and west coasts each year and a two-year stint would allow the two to see all of the country.

"We're still going," Jerry said yesterday. "Friends and family keep asking how long we're going to, and we say as long as it's fun."

Jerry described the circus as "a little section of the world."

"Once you enter the big top, there's no distinction between people. All races are equal and there's no stratification in life, the very successful and not-so successful all get together," he said.

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