By Curt Yeomans
Oriana Pineda and Diana Hernandez share some common ground.
Both are young artists from Morrow. Their families have known each other for several years, and Pineda's best friend is Hernandez's older sister.
They share one other thing in common, too. Pineda, 11, and Hernandez, 8, are the winners in their respective age groups in the Cole Bros. Circus of the Stars coloring contest that was recently sponsored by the Clayton News Daily and the Henry Daily Herald.
"I'm happy that Oriana is the other winner, because she's my friend," Hernandez said.
"It makes me a little happier, because I know her family," Pineda said. "It makes it a little more special that we get to share this experience together."
The circus is set to open today with a performance at 4:30 p.m., at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which is located at 1500 Tara Place, in Hampton. A second performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. Subsequent performances will take place on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.; 4:30 p.m., and 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, at 1:30 p.m., and 4:30 p.m.
As winners of the contest, Pineda and Hernandez will each receive six tickets to the circus, and are also scheduled to be painted up as clowns, and appear in the circus tonight at the 7:30 p.m., performance.
A total of 21 children participated in the contest in the 6-8 and 9-12 age categories. The 6-8 age category had the higher number of participants, with 13 entries submitted.
The contest calls for participants to decorate a circus illustration, featuring a ring master, two clowns and a big-top tent.
Pineda, the 9-12 age-group winner, decorated her entry with puff balls, yarn hair, sequins, glitter, beads and 3-D paint. Pineda is a two-time winner of the coloring contest, having won in her age group last year as well. She is a sixth-grader at Morrow Middle School.
"I've always liked the creativity activities, and I've been drawing for as long as I can remember," she said. "My mom had shown me how to make puff balls, and that's where I came up with the idea for the hair ... Also, I made a snowman last year for fun, and I saw the googly eyes on him, and decided to use them for one of the clowns ...
"At home, I always have the yarn, and the beads, so I sometimes save it for a good use," Pineda added.
Hernandez, the 6-8 age-group winner, decorated her entry with red, yellow, blue, purple and orange crayons, and a light layer of glitter on the background. She is a third-grader at McGarrah Elementary School in Morrow. She said she is looking forward to getting her face painted at the circus.
"I want to get butterflies painted on my face because I think they're pretty," she said.
This year marks the 125th anniversary of the founding of the circus, which travels throughout the Southeast and up the U.S. East Coast, Circus Ringmaster Chris Conners said.
Cole Bros., which touts itself as being "the world's largest circus under the big top," will feature nearly 50 performers, Conners said in a telephone interview on Thursday. He said the acts include a trapeze routine involving seven people on the high wire at the same time; elephants; camels; clowns; belly dancers, and a pair of "lovely ladies from Bulgaria who hang from their hair."
"We've got girls, clowns, animals and lots of entertainment," Conners said. "There's something for everyone at the circus."