I worked at the Pink Palace in 2008-2009. While there, I was fortunate to witness the end of a two-year volunteer project to restore the Clyde Parke Miniature Circus to working order. The following is the beginning of a feature article I wrote for the Pink Palace Web site:
Clyde Parke began carving a miniature circus in 1930. In the midst of the Great Depression, Clyde Parke found himself jobless. To keep busy, Parke began carving a detailed model of a full three-ring circus at a scale of one inch for every foot.
As Parke's hobby turned to obsession, the Clyde Parke Circus as it exists today began to take shape. Over the course of 30 years, Parke fleshed out more and more pieces, and made the circus ever more elaborate.
By the time he finished, the circus included more more than 2000 model people - almost 1,960 animated by a single one-half horsepower motor that drives the hand-built gears, belts, and pulleys that make it all work.
But like all good things, that animated circus had to come to an end. One day, the gears just gave out. The Clyde Parke Circus parade had stopped in its tracks.