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Downtown circus stunt ready for lift-off

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  • | 5:00 a.m. January 17, 2011
Circus Sarasota ringmaster Joseph Dominick Bauer Jr.
Circus Sarasota ringmaster Joseph Dominick Bauer Jr.
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The residents in downtown Sarasota’s Ritz-Carlton and One Watergate condominiums have grown accustomed to Circus Sarasota’s annual publicity stunts.

Last year, it seemed the entire city surrounded the Ritz for tightrope walker Nik Wallenda’s Feb. 4 high-wire stunt. Tomorrow, mobs of spectators will gather again to watch Circus Sarasota ringmaster Joseph Dominick Bauer Jr. climb aboard the “Wheel of Destiny.”

A 15th generation circus performer, Bauer, a Sarasota native, will hover 240 feet above downtown Sarasota in a revolving wheel, which he and Circus Sarasota co-founder Pedro Reis erected Monday morning on the Watergate roof.

For those of you who thought the Wallenda stunt couldn’t be outdone, note that Bauer’s Jan. 18 wheel act will happen nearly 50 feet higher than Wallenda’s high-wire stroll. And like Wallenda, Bauer will perform the stunt without a safety net.

In the 24 years Bauer has toured his "Wheel of Destiny" act, he has never presented the stunt in his hometown, nor performed it on a building as tall as the 19-story Watergate tower.

As for what tricks he’ll attempt once he’s up in the wheel, Bauer, who will host Circus Sarasota's winter performances for the fourth year in a row, says it’ll depend on the weather.

"There’s this one thing I do where I get the wheel spinning really fast and lean back,” Bauer says. “Gravity actually pulls me away from the wheel. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to pull that one off. The weather will determine how far I can push it."

The stunt is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18 at the intersection of North Tamiami Trail and Gulfstream Avenue between the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota and One Watergate Condominium.

Circus Sarasota's winter performances run Feb. 3 to Feb. 21.


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