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To the Big Apple Circus crew, an empty parking lot is a call to action and a Siren's call beckons to them from the open highway. They work six days a week packing and unpacking the circus and they watch other people get all the applause. For some, the Big Apple Circus is family. For others, it's a place to lay low for six months or six years. How can you tell who is a Big Apple Circus crew member? Just look at their hands: They wear their callouses like badges of courage.
House crew members act as ushers and facilitate guest relations. Ring crew members are part of the actual show, assisting with set changes and performances, as needed. Tent crew members assemble and raise the big top. They're also responsible for tent maintenance.
Thomas "Tommy" Decoteau
Born in Portland, Maine, Decoteau spent most of his youth in the Bronx, New York, before coming to the Big Apple Circus. He is a ring crew member, which means he helps change out set items during performances. During the Play On! season, Decateau begins dating another Big Apple Circus crew member, Tara Draginin. Decateau considers the Big Apple Circus his home and has fierce loyalty to it, even tattooing the Big Apple Circus logo on his forearm. He is rumored to have alerted police after he allegedly heard fellow crew member Ryan "Yuri" Clark make a bomb threat against the circus.
Efrain "Smiley" Diaz
Diaz is a member of the Big Apple Circus ring crew. During the Play On! season, he develops an act that he hopes one day to perform under the big top. He debuts his clown persona during "Midnight Clowns," a much-anticipated, annual, after-hours performance in which crew members parody the performers and their respective acts. Diaz shares a trailer with Kwame Fine-Solomon, a member of the Big Apple Circus tent crew.
Ryan "Yuri" Clark
Originally from Denison, Iowa, Yuri and his young wife, Heidi Wierbilis, joined the Big Apple Circus together. During the Play On! season, Clark works as a member of ring crew, but he admits that he suffers from a panic disorder and begins missing work shifts. While the Big Apple Circus is still putting the show together in Walden, New York, Clark is arrested for making a bomb threat against the circus. This transgression strains his marriage with Wierbilis, who fields uncomfortable questions from other Big Apple Circus employees.
Married to long-time love Ryan "Yuri" Clark, Wierbilis joined the Big Apple Circus with him as a horse groom. Her marriage is strained after Clark's run-in with the law, and she determines that she'd like to stay with the circus for the rest of the season, even as Clark makes other plans. Wierbilis begins a relationship with fellow Big Apple Circus crew member Kwami Fine-Solomon, but their path together is filled with challenges as they try to etch out an identity for themselves with the circus.
During the Play On! season, Draginin works as a member of the Big Apple Circus house crew, acting as an usher and helping with guest relations. She is a self-proclaimed wanderlust who joined the circus for a new adventure. During the 2008--2009 season, she begins dating fellow Big Apple Circus crew member Tommy Decoteau, even accompanying him as he gets a Big Apple Circus logo tattoo on his forearm.
A member of the Big Apple Circus tent crew, Fine-Solomon begins dating Heidi Wierbilis in the middle of the Big Apple Circus' 2008—2009 tour. The duo leave the circus for Colorado where they develop their own equestrian trick riding act. But personal complications threaten to derail their plans to join the circus with a fully developed performance act and may drive Wierbilis and Fine-Solomon apart.