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Circus Tent Collapses in Storm, Injuring Spectators

August 18, 1988

LAVALLETTE, N.J. (AP) _ A circus tent collapsed during a violent thunderstorm Wednesday night, injuring about 15 people, officials said.

The tent over the one-ring circus fell minutes after the first 90-minute evening show, said Mayor James Boekholt Jr.

″It was nice skies, then all of a sudden it turned black and there was rain and wind,″ he said.

Firefighters and emergency medical crews, on the scene because they sponsored the circus, went to the aid of about 40 circusgoers under the tent, Boekholt said.

He said the injuries were not life-threatening and ranged from cuts and bruises to broken bones. Spokeswomen at two hospitals where most of the injured were taken said at least 13 patients were being treated and they were expected to be released.

At the circus, animals were kept under control and did not get loose, the mayor said.

Claire Van Genderen, who said she had left the circus with her young son and husband following the conclusion of the first show, said the 30-foot-high tent collapsed in gusty winds.

″We heard a noise and turned around and it had fallen down,″ she said. ″People were screaming.″

Boekholt, who came to the scene after the collapse, said the circus company usually comes to the borough twice a summer for benefits and had performed last month.

A second show scheduled for Wednesday night was canceled, and circus officials could not be reached for comment. The mayor did not know the circus name but said it was based in Windham, N.Y., where there were no telephone listings for circuses.

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