Stardust faces media circus
By KATE STEAD email@example.com HOLIDAY-MAKERS at Yamba seemed oblivious to the Stardust Circus van featuring painted elephants in Coldstream Street yesterday.
Out at the Angourie Road Sports Reserve, however, there was a battalion of media moving in on the big top site, hungry for details of the death of one of the circus' workers on Thursday.
In four-wheel-drives and hire-cars came A Current Affair; Channel Seven and The Daily Telegraph. Channel Ten hovered overhead in a helicopter and a plethora of metropolitan newspapers, radio stations and the national broadsheet The Australian continued ringing co-proprietor of Stardust Circus, Janice Lennon, who, by 10am was clearly 'over it'.
Mrs Lennon was just managing to maintain a gracious demeanour while coming to terms with the tragedy, answering media enquiries and actually putting the circus together for last night's first Yamba performance.
"We have to have an opening show," Mrs Lennon said. "It may as well be tonight."
She described the man who had run away with the circus and was found dead on Thursday, evidently crushed by one of the two circus elephants, as 'an old pensioner who loved the circus lifestyle'.
She said he had been around the circus for the past six years and a permanent crew member for two.
Thought to be a bit of a 'loner', the man was actually not that old in fact, 54, but as his relatives had still not been traced yesterday Mrs Lennon was unable to reveal his name or much about his background.
"I know he had a brother and a son both interstate," she said.
Police were making enquiries in Victoria and Western Australia and also with Centrelink, but had not located his family last night.
The cause of the man's death is also a mystery only an autopsy will clarify.
Speculation that the man suffered a heart attack and fell to the ground before Arna, the elephant, trod on him cannot be confirmed until police receive the results of the autopsy.
One of Mrs Lennon's sons was nearby when the man released Arna from her enclosure, but had his back to them.
"It happened so quickly," Mrs Lennon said. "My son didn't see what happened."