Reprinted from yesterday's late editions

Benica Kelly, who is 3 years old, smiled from beneath her big pigtails. She just lived the circus. She covered her eyes during the highwire act, laughed at the clowns, stared wide-eyed with open mouth while the animal trainers cracked their whips and clapped her hands when it was all over.

It was spring again in Washington, a time for everyone to put aside a few hours to become a part of the 106th Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Blue team circus that opened in the D.C. Armory last night.

Performer Elvin Bale, who bears a striking resemblance to actor Robert Redford and may be one of the most coordinated men in the world, defied death on an overhead giant gyro wheel.

And over here folks we have Michu, the smallest man in the world. He weighs 25 pounds, stands 33 inches tall and gets married to Juliana, a girl who is shorter than he is, 625 times a year. The wedding is performed to songs like "I Love You Truly," and all the vows are sung. "Do you take this woman for your lawfully wedded wife?" a voice sings, and Michu says, "I do." Then the voice comes out and says, "The circus now proclaims you the smallest man and wife in the whole universe."

There were 17 elephants, all females, who seemed to like the life they were leading with people sitting on their backs and all dressed up in fancy costumes.

Then polar bears that the circus likes to bill as "the most vicious of all trained animals" performed without viciousness.

The three rings move with excitement and color with the performers appearing to have as much fun as the people in the bleachers.

An American-born elephant named Cora, who came out of the Portland, Ore., zoo, is big for her young age of 10.Cora knelt down, allowed a dog to get on her back and seemed to smile a little bit.

Shander Raski, who is 32 years old and 40 inches high, stood on his head and poured himself something from a small bottle and drank it. His wife, Elizabeth, who is a little shorter, scolded him in another language. Just off stage, 17 clowns stuffed themselves into a car, drove out into the middle ring and emptied themselves from the car.

Pomp and circumstances belong to a circus like cotton candy, peanuts, and clowns, and everyone left with a smile on his or her face.