St. Louis’ Circus Flora at the Grand Center

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-- You might call it St. Louis' own dog and pony show, but then again, it's so much more.

There are clowns, camels from the Canary Islands and aerial artists who will take your breath away.

"I was scared of that girl up on the swing," says a small girl sitting next to her mother.

There are only three U.S. cities that can lay claim to having their very own circus.

And Circus Flora's "The Pawn" reminds patrons why this one is heads and tails above the rest.

"It's something special and exclusive to St. Louis," says Circus Flora Executive Director Joel Emery.  "We perform only in St. Louis to 30,000 St. Louisans to under the big top every summer."

I really didn't know that.  I've been out of town for several years and now that we're back we're really excited.

The Pawn pairs the St. Louis Chess Club and Chess Hall of Fame with some world class acts like the Flying Wallendas and the Flying Pages.

But absent from the 28th season is founder David Balding who passed just weeks before the pawn made it's opening move.

"That's what we're all about is getting as many people into the big top tent to experience his vision, his artistry, what he knew the circus could be, the intimacy where you're so close that you can feel the ground shake as the horses go by, where you can see the sweat dripping off the Flying Wallendas as they're up in the air," says Emery.  "That's what he wanted, that's what he dreamt of, all with a plot, all the live music being performed."

While the king of Circus Flora might be gone, his crowning achievement will carry on much to the chagrin of parents and children of all ages.

I think it's just exciting seeing them so excited watching it, the fear and still excited.  It's really exciting to see them watching it, says Holly Salvatore.