Barnum & Bailey Performer, Florida

Barnum & Bailey Performer, Florida

Gibsonton, Florida, became a popular winter fishing destination for many carnival and sideshow workers in the 1940s. During this time, Al and Jeanie Tomaini opened a fishing camp and restaurant called “Giant’s Fish Camp.” Al stood at over eight feet tall while his wife Jeanie was approximately two and a half feet tall and toured the carnival sideshow circuit as the “half-woman.” Soon after the Tomainis settled in town, many carnival folks seeking a sense of community and acceptance, followed. As carnival folk spent more than half of the year on the road and were strangers in every town they passed through, Gibsonton was a natural choice. The town embraced them, enacting special zoning laws known as “Residential Business Zoning” which still allow for people to keep show animals and carnival rides and exhibits on their property. Roy Huston, an illusionist and Gibsonton resident says, “It’s the only settlement in America classed as RSB: a Residential Business Zone which gives the locals the right to train grizzly bears or store dodgem cars in their gardens.”

iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/fall07/Caramanica/index.html