If you are an alumni of the Great Y Circus, we would love to hear from you. We want to share comments, photos and memories from alumni of the circus. We'd love to hear from you and share your memories with others!

Please send a message to us and include your name, address, last year in circus, and the acts in which you performed.

If you have pictures of yourself performing, we would love to post them in our online galleries!

How You Can Help Circus

As a non-profit organization, the Circus program benefits from charitable gifts from its Alumni and other supporters. If you would like to make a contribution to the Circus program, the Circus participants would be extremely grateful for your generosity!

If you would like to make a monetary contribution, you can send a check made payable to "CCAC". Monetary donations are used to fund program scholarships, equipment purchases and program supply purchases that will be used for the benefit all Circus participants.

If you prefer to make a donation of equipment, costumes or program supplies, please contact the the Community Circus Arts Corporation (CCAC) President via e-mail at to make arrangements for the delivery of your gift to the YMCA.

All donations, whether monetary or otherwise, should be sent to:

Community Circus Arts Corporation (CCAC)
P.O. BOX 9433

All benefactors will receive a letter of thanks from the YMCA to document your tax-deductible gift to the Circus program.  If your donation requires a street address, use the street address --

c/o YMCA of the East Valley
500 E. Citrus Ave
Redlands, CA 92373

Alumni Memories

Cecelia (Cia) Smith Donahue

When I was in Redlands recently, I stopped by the "Y" where I spent many hours in my youth. It was great to be so welcomed by your staff and volunteers. I performed in the "Y" Circus for about 14 or 15 years beginning as a tumbler in about 1950. I went on to the ladders,trampoline, the cradle (with 2 other performers)and double trapeze with my brother Robert Smith. I remember the fun of practicing several times a week and the thrill of the nights we performed. The Redlands High School band played as we marched around the gym all decked out in our sequins and flashy costumes. But most of all I remember the dedication, support, and warmth of Roy and Mrs. Coble. What a pair!! Thanks for keeping the spirit alive with whole new generations!!

Shayne Barr

I told some friends I could ride a unicycle and at first they didn't believe me.  Then I told them I could juggle while riding and they really didn't believe me.  And then one of them joked that I should go join the circus.  I said"Where do you think I learned how to do it in the first place?"  And somehow, they realized I wasn't kidding.  I told them I was a member of a youth circus when I was a kid in the early 80's.  And how we trained all year, and would do performances in May and it seemed between all the performances that the whole city came to see it.  We rode in parades and did shows at the mall.  And it brought back fond memories of one of those things that I still talk about, for it is one of those things that makes my life seem a little different from anyone else I know.  It was truly a unique life experience.
So I decided to look it up on the internet and see what has become of the Great Y Circus.  In this day and age of computers, internet, video games and everything else kids seem to be into, I honestly figured it had died out at some point.  I'm glad to see that the Great Y Circus is alive and well.  I wish you all the best in continuing the tradition that I am proud to have been a small part of.
Shayne Barr - Unicycle, cradle and acrobats.


Greetings from a former Y Circus Clown:

 My family and I were members of the Great Y Circus Clown Troupe from the 1960's into the 1980's.  We were the clowns with the puppets.  For some years, my wife, Shirley, and I were Producing Clowns (directors).
 In a sense, our son, Bret, and daughter, Erin, grew up with this circus.  Eventually, they reached maturity and went out into the world.
 Bret was in the Air Force for 14years.  Upon re-entering civilian life, he went to college and graduated a Registered Nurse.  He is now employed as a supervisor at a convalescent home in Lancaster, Ohio.  Much of his work is involved with the computer program for this facility and its parent company.  He has two children in California and, here in Ohio, is married with three children.
 After graduating from Redlands High School, Erin went to University of Redlands where she graduated.  Then it was on to seminary.  Now she is a Presbyterian minister as is her husband.  They and their two children live in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.
 After living in Redlands for 28 years, Shirley and I moved to Lompoc, northwest of Santa Barbara.  Two years later, we came back to our home state of Ohio to live in the beautiful Hocking Hills country in the southeastern part of the state.  Retirement finally gave us the time to write the historical circus novel that had been running around in my head for some 30 years.  When we got here we found that there was circus history right in our area.  In days gone by, nearby Nelsonville provided winter quarters for two circuses.  And from a nearby coal town came the story of a girl with a serious weight problem who joined a circus sideshow in 1918.  By 1922 she was in Hollywood, acting in a circus-themed movie.  She was to go on to appear in two other movies and to make a number of world tours.  Of course, our novel is about a circus clown.  Whiteface and White Wardrobe is available on the internet from at : It is also on sale at online bookstores such as and
For further information, you can contact the author by E-Mailing
 We have wonderful memories of the Great Y Circus, and send our greetings to other alumni.
 Jack and Shirley Cox


Belinda Dick:

My name is Belinda Dick, my sister and I were both in the circus a couple of years, until the insurance changed. I believe the last year was 1986 or 1987. I was in Swinging Y's and Baseballs??, Multiple trapeze, unicycle, clowning, trampoline, juggling and many more. It was a wonderful experience and I still wish i could have continued. I currently live out of the country and my photos are in the States… carefully guarding those wonderful memories or I would be more than happy to share them. Thanks for such a wonderful experience!


Kathryn Lancaster:

I (Kathryn Lancaster) want to let you know we have just become a "3 GENERATION CIRCUS FAMILY...I am 51 yrs old and was in the circus under Roy Coble when I was about 8,9, and 10 yrs old (around 1964-1969)...I grew up and my daughter (Sarah Carver) got into the circus at 16 and 17 years old during. She joined spanish webs (at 15 1/2) but suffered a non-circus related injury that prevented her from continuing however she loved circus so much, she stayed on to train beginning circus for 2 yrs ( 1996-1997 ) and always talked about the hundreds of french braids she did during show daughter grew up and had a daughter (my granddaughter Aurora McNay, 9 yrs old) who we signed up for CIRCUS CAMP this summer...she came home completely inspired to join the circus and we signed her up for BEGINNING CIRCUS to start next week. I just wanted to bring it to someone's attention that there are 3 generation circus families regarding the Redlands YMCA CIRCUS and the values and character building I got from the Y Circus I made sure were passed on to my daughter and my granddaughter...I believe circus gave me confidence and personal strength that stayed with me throughout my life and helped me conquer what looked impossible to achieve (like being in circus for several years). Circus taught me to take time to complete challenges and never give up as the years went on. It taught me to meet challenges and experience success...I know this sounds like something in a pamphlet to sell the idea of investing time and money into circus, but it's true. Thanks for taking the time to read this message and pass the message on to other families if you can.
Kathryn A. Lancaster