The Zoppè Italian Family Circus in Snowmass
The car sliced through the thick fog as we drove down the long dirt road on Nantucket island, babies in the back seat of the car cooing in anticipation of something exciting about to happen. Suddenly the ghost-like apparition appeared in the near distance, a large white tent with flags calmly blowing in the wind. The Zoppè Italian Family Circus had come to the island again and I was heading there with my sisters, our mother, and all of her grandchildren. We unstrapped babies, diaper bags and our soft colorful Pashmina shawls and descended into a world that appeared to have been frozen in time.
Our family has been watching the Zoppè family perform for years on end, yet the magic continues each year, as it did last night, this time in Snowmass, Colorado.
Once upon a time for a brief period, Giovanni Zoppè, aka Nino the Clown, and his handsome Italian features, comedic flirtations and acrobatic feats charmed one of my siblings and Nino entered our lives. Since then I have been treated as one of his extended family members and go to the circus every year with the knowledge that we may become part of Nino’s act.
This year, as always, we received a warm greeting outside by Giovanni and his family and were gifted lemonade, popcorn and Nino swag and guided to our reserved seats in the front row.
As one who once was saddened by the sorry looking animals in the big circuses we used to watch back in Massachusetts, this circus is a departure from my past. The animals are healthy and proud and feel loved. From the start the intimacy that Giovanni and his family evote make you also feel as though you are loved and they engage with you as if you are a part of the show, not just simply an observer.
Giovanni Zoppé is not just any ole clown. He is an incredible athlete who has not been deterred by his near-death experiences. “I have an angel who watches over me,” he said on Saturday night after the show while our seven boys were hovering over him not wanting his comedic brilliance to end. From falling 30 feet in the middle of a comic aerialist act and ending up in a coma for four days; falling headfirst doing a 180-degree turn on a high wire; falling off a horse while leaping over flaming poles in front of more than 1,000 spectators; and surviving a car accident where he was thrown through the window to land [almost] unscathed as large particles from a rolling truck flew all around him, his passion for the circus keeps him….clowning around.
I am sorry to not have had the chance to get this story out sooner as I would love for everyone in our valley to know that this is an experience not to be missed, whether you have children or are still like Nino, a child yourself. But there is always next year – until then, we will feed you glimpses of what’s to come.