by Jean S. Baum

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – In 1959, the Circus World Museum was created to preserve the memory of the great railroad circuses, like the Ringling Brothers Circus founded in Baraboo, Wis., in 1884, that were quickly becoming a thing of the past. Today, the museum sits on approximately 64 acres of land and has a collection of over 210 original wagons and vehicles used in circuses.

It has been six years since the last parade took place due to the tremendous cost of updating the many gorgeous wagons and carriages, assembling the vast amount of lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, hippos, marching bands and of course horses.

On July 12, 2009, the highly publicized and greatly anticipated Great Circus Parade took place in Milwaukee, traveling miles through the downtown area near Lake Michigan. Many local horse breeds were invited to join in the festivities. Prominently among those was the Walking Horse Owners’ Association.

Wisconsin Walking Horse Association board member Jean Ross headed the complex and time-consuming efforts. Ross took it upon herself to produce a group of eight horses and riders and five parade walkers, whose job is to walk the parade road with the horses if assistance is needed. This event, with over 500,000 spectators, was telecast nationally on PBS stations.

Many thanks go out to Jean Ross for her dedication and hours of planning, assembling horses and riders and making quite a few practice runs in smaller parades. Also, thanks to Kim and Jim Sizer and Don and Arlene Schetter for providing the horses.

It was a thrill that most will never forget and quite a proud moment for the wonderful and steady breed.