Manager says safety checks at circus top priority

Floor manager says he is constantly checking safety of equipment

An accident at a circus performance in Rhode Island over the weekend is putting some extra attention on a different circus that rolled into La Crosse Monday morning.

It has two performances at the La Crosse Center this week, but even before Sunday’s accident, safety is a top concern.

The Zor Shrine Circus had roughly eight hours to set up all the equipment and make sure everything is in place for the opening act. The floor manager said sometimes they set up and tear down all in one day, it just depends on their schedule, but no matter how crammed they are for time safety always comes first.

“I was born in the circus,” said Israel Alvardo, the floor manager for Zor Shrine Circus.

Alvardo couldn’t imagine a life without the circus.

“Even when I was in school, my parents would put me in practice,” said Alvardo.

For more than a decade, Alvardo performed dangerous stunts for the crowds on the flying trapeze.

“If it was easy, everyone would do it,” said Alvardo. “You don’t think of the danger, you are aware of it, you have to be, but you don’t really think about it otherwise you won’t be able to do it.”

Now, Alvardo is more than aware of the dangers involved in the circus as he has become the circus’s floor manager.

“I am the person in charge of the whole setup and the operation of the circus as far as production,” said Alvardo.

One of his biggest roles is safety.

“The No. 1 rule in safety is always inspecting the equipment and make sure it is 100 percent,” said Alvardo.

Safety checks are done throughout the set up process, but starts with the venue.

“Our structure is all established with safe guards and guide wires,” said Art Fahey, the executive director of the La Crosse Center. “Where they anchor in and tie in we have to make sure they are safe and sound with what they are doing as far as tying into the building structure.”

Then the performers get involved and check their own apparatus.

“The check themselves, then I double check them,” said Alvardo.

By this time, the equipment has been checked at least three times, but there is still more to do.

“Once we get ready to start the show, I walk around with my crew and double check that all safety precautions are done, check cables, tension, levels and make sure things are in place,” said Alvardo.

It doesn’t stop there, safety checks continue during the show.

“Right before the act, we do one more check. Once the performer goes up and about to start, we wait for the signal, if they feel 100 percent with it, it’s on, if they have any doubts or questions, we will pause until everything is in order,” said Alvardo.

Although a lot of safety measures are in place Alvardo said accidents do happen.

“We are going to do our best to make sure this never happens again, “said Alvardo

But it’s a risk everyone in the circus understands.

“This is the kind of lifestyle that we choose,” said Alvardo.

Officials with the Zor Shrine Circus say the accident in Rhode Island¬† won’t affect the show they’ve prepared for Monday and Tuesday night in La Crosse, but it does serve as a reminder to double check their safety precautions.