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Monday, April 23 News

Mite-y big fun as flea circus comes to town

Itching for fun, a curious crowd alighted at the Westport Library to see a flea circus.

Ed's Amazing Flea Circus was in the spotlight Saturday in the library's McManus Room, as Ed Popielarczyk, a magician from Florence, Mass., brought his troupe of tiny performers to entertain with laughs and a few optical illusions.

"The hardest thing to do is to train them to walk and not to hop, which is what they do naturally," he told the large audience, including people of all ages.

Popielarczyk said he trains the fleas by putting them in a test tube so that every time they try to jump, they bump their heads.

"This is easy for me because my fleas do all the work," he said. "I don't have to do anything."

The three stars of the show were Bruno, the strongest flea in the world, according to Popielarczyk, joined by Fernando, the company's daredevil, and Fifi, the elegant acrobat. Popielarczyk led the fleas through an assortment of feats that included balancing on a tightrope, swinging a trapeze and even mind-reading a playing card.

"This is the funniest thing I've seen in year," said Johanna Rossi of Westport. "The kids are hysterical."

Popielarczyk, whose fleas kept hopping off onto the floor, causing an uproarious ruckus, said he always keeps some extra fleas in training, because sometimes they do get lost.

"I always have some in training, ready to go," he said. "I get them from my dogs and cats."

"This is very good, very entertaining," said David Miller of Westport, whose son, Nathaniel, served as one of Popielarczyk's assistants from the audience during the performance.

"He and his brother are enchanted by it," Miller said.

While he's toured with the flea circus for about five years, Popielarczyk is a magic and balloon-sculpting veteran of about 30 years.

"I've got people hiring me to do their kid's birthday party and I did their birthday parties when they were kids," he said.