Drivers beware: Circus animals on parade Wednesday in Kent, Renton
By STEVE HUNTER
Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter
September 2, 2009 · Updated 11:02 PM
Drivers need to beware of elephants, tigers, zebras, horses and dogs as the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus animals parade 5 miles Sept. 2 from Renton to the ShoWare Center in downtown Kent.
The exact time of the parade has yet to be determined and might not be known up until a half-hour before the march starts as Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway officials determine the best time for the mile-long circus train to park to unload the animals.
“Right now our window is 9 a.m. to noon, but it could be before or after that,” said Kent Police Lt. Rafael Padilla, who will help oversee the police escort of the circus animals, in a phone interview Wednesday. “We could know three hours before or a half-hour before. We’re on standby for that.”
The circus performs Sept. 3-7 at the ShoWare Center.
Circus officials will unload the animals near Oaksdale Avenue Southwest and Southwest 41st Avenue in Renton.
From there, the animals head south on 80th Avenue South to South 196th Street; west on 196th to West Valley Highway; south on West Valley to South 228th Street; east on 228th to Fourth Avenue (also known as 76th Avenue South); south on Fourth to Cloudy Street; west on Cloudy to the arena’s back entrance.
“We think it will take well over an hour,” Padilla said. “We’re going to try to minimize the impact on traffic.”
Padilla expects the biggest traffic backups along the West Valley Highway. Police will close the southbound lanes between 196th and 228th for about 30 minutes.
“At this time, we’ll only close the southbound lanes and the northbound lanes will move freely,” Padilla said.
Eleven elephants, 13 tigers, 10 horses, four miniature horses, five zebras and 33 dogs are expected to be in the parade.
“We are at the mercy of the train system, so we don’t know much about the final parade logistics until the afternoon before or sometimes the morning of the parade,” wrote Jennifer Rice, a circus promoter, in an e-mail Tuesday.
Rice noted that residents shouldn’t expect the traditional parade where people line the streets and set up chairs.
“Dedicated fans who wait around will definitely see something,” Rice wrote. “But as a mom myself, I would not promise my kids they’ll see elephants walking down the street at a particular time because it could be a long wait for a young child.”
Police will keep an eye out along the parade route for any protest groups that oppose the circus because of alleged abuse of animals.
“We don’t know of any that will be at the walk,” Padilla said of the protest groups.
Representatives from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Northwest Animals Rights Watch and the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) have registered with the city to protest in front of the ShoWare Center during the circus shows Sept. 3-7, Padilla said.
About a dozen police officers, including a couple from Renton and Des Moines, will escort the animals through town. That total includes eight motorcycle officers.
The cost of the officers will come out of the regular police budget.
“It’s all on-duty staff so that will minimize any overtime,” Padilla said.
Eight circus shows are scheduled at the ShoWare, including 7:30 p.m. Sept. 3-4; 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 5; 1 and 5 p.m. Sept. 6; and 1 p.m. Sept. 7, which also is Labor Day.
Tickets are $75 for celebrity seats, $45 for front row, $30 for VIP, $20 for lower level and $15 for upper level.
For ticket information, go to www.showarecenter.com, call 253-856-6999 or visit the ShoWare Center box office, 625 W. James St.
The Kent Reporter will post information about the parade time when it becomes available at www.kentreporter.com.
What: Ringling Bros. circus parade
When: Sept. 2, time to be determined, but it could be between 9 a.m. and noon.
Where: Renton to ShoWare Center via 80th Avenue South, South 196th Street, West Valley Highway, South 228th Street, Fourth Avenue and Cloudy StreetContact Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter Steve Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-872-6600, ext. 5052.