When Circus People Decide to Get Hitched, It's Time to Send in the Clowns—and the Horses and Camels

updated 08/08/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/08/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Anyone planning a wedding is familiar with the horror known as the Guest List. Do you hold the line at third cousins? Can you exclude Uncle Ned who drinks too much? Aunt Minnie who talks too much? For a bit of perspective, let us consider the recent wedding of Mary Jane Schmidt and Rick Percy, both 30. Among those present was a rotund guy named Jolly who sported a bulbous red nose and a carrot-orange fright wig. Other guests included 750 horses, a few camels, 10 elephants, one hippopotamus, a mummers' band and half-a-million bystanders. I told you we should have eloped.

A circus atmosphere? Yes, but entirely appropriate, since the wedding was held during Milwaukee's 25th annual Great Circus Parade. Employees of the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wis.—Mary Jane works in development; Rick is the bandleader—the couple met a year ago on the night before the circus train left for the annual Milwaukee parade. They decided to get married during this year's parade, says the groom, because "when you're in the circus, your whole life is the circus. You're always in the center ring." So it was that Schmidt and Percy exchanged rings while jiggling along in an ornate, horse-drawn wagon, one of the 75 historic vehicles the museum paraded during the afternoon. The crowd lining the route shouted congratulations and presented the couple, in true Milwaukee style, with icy six-packs of beer. The procession proceeded smoothly, except for the moment when the wagon clattered over a bridge. Said the bride: "I hope the marriage isn't this rocky."

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