For lion trainers and tight-rope walkers, a spot on St. Armands Circle’s Circus Ring of Fame is like a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame — an honor reserved for the best and brightest.
On Sunday, Jan. 19, the Circus Ring of Fame inducted four new members. Longboat Key resident Larry Marthaler was never part of any circus, but he was at the center of the Ring of Fame’s founding. That’s why he received a plaque (not part of the Ring of Fame) that will be installed this week on the Circle.
Marthaler founded the Circus Ring of Fame in 1986, when he was executive director of the Sarasota Convention & Visitors Bureau.
He conceived of the idea as a way to highlight a unique part of Sarasota history. The city is home to several circuses, including Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which began using Sarasota as its winter headquarters in 1927.
He brought the Ring of Fame to St. Armands Circle because of its ties to circus magnate John Ringling and its status as a key destination for residents and visitors.
Each inductee receives a custom wagon wheel plaque at the center of St. Armands Circle Park. With the latest inductions, the Ring of Fame now has 115 members.
At Sunday’s ceremony, Marthaler was photographed with another local resident who shows that Sarasota’s circus tradition continues to thrive: Nik Wallenda, whose Grand Canyon tight-rope walk drew 10.7 million live viewers last summer.
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected]