Old Ringling circus train car to get new life

Each time the Ringling Circus train came to town it was full of performers.

"It was full of adventure. I think they probably got used to being on a train that was rocking from side to side," said George Miller.

George Miller works on the Depot committee with the Venice Area Historical Society. He deals with train history and recalls how the Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus. The circus called Venice their winter home. When train cars pulled into town, each was packed with performers living aboard.

"Each person with their own personality would put different things on the wall...whether they be family friends or something related to their hobbies," he said. 

One of those cars, a 1953 Pullman sleeper car, was bought by the Ringling circus in 1978. It now sits outside a Venice repair shop.

It's rusted and decaying, but it's about to get some new life.

"We are losing some of the circus heritage. We really want people to remember the heritage that really is apart of the circus here in Venice," said Miller.

The Venice Area Historical Society has raised nearly $250,000 through fundraisers and grants to restore the sleeper car.

"We'd like to display for people how the performers, whether it be music performers or acrobats or clowns, lived when they were traveling on the circus," said Miller.

It will take a lot of hard work and even more time before the car is finished. Miller said it could take a year or more before the car is finished.

"We're gonna put a roof on it. We are going to strip the paint off. We are going to fix up the outside," said Bob Dills.

Bob Dills owns Uniglide company. They're based in Venice and will be doing the restoration to the car. Once it's finished it'll be placed at the Venice Train Depot for everyone to enjoy and remember how the circus once came to town.

"Everybody has been waiting for it. They've been asking when's the train coming, when's the train coming? Now that it is here it's hard to believe," said Dills.