Mariska Hargitay with Grandma the Clown (Barry Lubin)

In the mid-seventies Paul Binder and Michael Christensen debuted the Big Apple Circus in NYC. It’s now in its 30th year of enthralling audiences of all ages with spellbinding acrobatics, riveting animal stunts, and sidesplitting clowning.

The Big Apple Circus Gala at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park under the Big Top Tent raised $1.2 mil for programs like Clown Care, which trains professional “clown doctors” to buck up kids’ spirits in hospitals, and Circus for All, which gives out tickets to kids whose families can’t afford them.

Big Apple’s 30th anniversary show Celebrate! featured the beloved “Grandma the Clown,” Barry Lubin, British ringmistress Carrie Harvey, an original musical score by Broad­way’s Michael Valenti, plus the whole nine circus yards, from high-wire jinks and juggling to canine antics, pranc­ing horses, cavorting cats, and Russian hula-hoop wizardry.

Meredith Vieira as “Dr. Ditsie” and
Law & Order: SVU actor Chris Meloni
Hula-hoop performer Yelena Larkina,
Peter Martins, Katie Jane Jones
photos by Steve Shevett