It's a Circus Downtown

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus' traditional pre-dawn animal walk went on as planned Tuesday, despite the Michael Jackson memorial tribute at Staples Center.

The animals were loaded off a train from Fresno at 25th and Alameda streets. Eleven elephants will lead the walk, followed by seven horses with handlers.

The walked north on Alameda Street, then west on Washington Boulevard, north on Maple Avenue, west on Pico Boulevard, north on Cherry Street, then to Chick Hearn Court and Staples Center.

The walk is traditionally held before dawn in an attempt to avoid disrupting traffic, according to Andy Perez, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment, Inc., which produces the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus.

In Los Angeles, the animal walk customarily passes the Metro Blue Line train route.

"You see people sleepy with their heads against the window and then all of a sudden they see 11 elephants walking down the street and they rub their eyes and their heads pop up (and they think) 'Did I just see what I saw?'" Perez said.

The circus will begin a five-day run at Staples Center, as scheduled, Wednesday night.

Today's Michael Jackson tribute "has affected us, but not much," Perez said.

"We're kind of splitting up the way we load in," Perez said. "We'll be bringing some things in earlier, then our crew will wait until the tribute is done and everything with the tribute is loaded out."

About 10-12 hours are needed to set up an arena for the circus.

"We pretty much move cities every week," Perez told City News Service. "We've got it down to a science to bring our train in, unload and move into an arena and set up. We've had many experiences of coming in where they might be a basketball game the day before. It's not that unusual for us to do."

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