ISU Gamma Phi Circus performers won’t be home for Thanksgiving

Gamma Phi
ISU’s Gamma Phi Circus will perform at this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. (Illinois State University photo)


By Howard Packowitz

NORMAL – When Clifford “Pop” Horton created Gamma Phi Circus 90 years ago at Illinois State University, it would have been hard for him to imagine the student circus performers would someday display their talents on the national stage that awaits them in 12 weeks.

Gamma Phi Circus has been invited to perform in New York at the 93rd Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 28.

Gamma Phi is the nation’s oldest collegiate circus that emerged from Pop Horton’s goal to promote physical education and honor gymnastic excellence among students.

Gamma Phi’s performance at the Macy’s parade caps a year-long 90th anniversary celebration. The parade is broadcast each year on NBC.

ISU is asking for donations to help pay airfare and lodging for performers and coaches.

Gifts are accepted at

More information can be obtained by contacting Gamma Phi Circus Program Director Rainie Themer at 309-438-2937 or

Howard Packowitz can be reached at


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