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Gibsonton

Gibsonton was famous as a sideshow wintering town, where various people in the carnival business would spend the off season placing it near the winter home for Ringling Brothers Circus at Tampa, Sarasota and Venice in various times. It was home to Percilla the Monkey girl, the Anatomical Wonder, and the Lobster Boy. Siamese twin sisters ran a fruit stand here. At one time, it was the only post office with a counter for dwarves. Aside from the agreeable winter climate, Gibsonton offered unique circus zoning laws that allowed residents to keep elephants and circus trailers on their front lawns.

Gibtown's International Independent Showmen’s Museum houses on two floors a wide assortment of antique equipment, historic printed materials and detailed exhibits that tell the carnival story – most of it donated by practicing carnies. Carnival items from across the country reflecting nearly a century of carnival experiences have been donated. "There's one of the first Ferris Wheels in the country, which will be assembled upright inside the museum. There's also one of burlesque performer Gypsy Rose Lee's slinky black beaded costumes, which turned many a head back in the day. And don't forget the outfit worn by the "Viking Giant" himself, Johann K. Peturson. He was nearly 8 feet tall and weighed 425 pounds." The museum will also feature photos of carnival setups throughout the years. Visitors will also be able to walk through carnie trailers, which open to transform from a dull-looking compartment into brightly lit and ornate facades.

 

 

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