Now in its 132nd year, the circus known as The Greatest Show on Earth has kept up with the times while keeping one foot firmly rooted in tradition. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has added its first ever rap number, so kids can get their groove on while checking out the animals, colorful costumes and, of course, the Human Cannonball. Still doing that clown thang is Italian-born David Larible, arguably the best in the business (his knife-throwing routine still cracks us up). There are also plenty of new animal acts and daredevils to go around. From the dude who works with trained alligators to the kung fu-inspired WuSu Warriors, there's plenty to keep kids' jaws dropping while ice cream drips down their T-shirts. And dads will monopolize the binoculars when hottie Sara the Tiger Whisperer does her thing.
Don't forget to bring the kids an hour before showtime to meet some of the performers up close in the center ring. The circus runs through July 20 at Compaq Center, 10 East Greenway Plaza. For a complete schedule and tickets, call 713-629-3700 or visit www.ringling.com. $12 to $36. -- Greg Barr
Wave of Humiliation
A kid doesn't need a golden ticket to win a year's supply of candy. He just has to win a surfing contest. In the Wonka Wave Surf Challenge (an event that must be as embarrassing to kids as Huggies Pull-Ups commercials), kids ages eight to 14 will ride a stationary surfboard, demonstrating their "wacky" surfing techniques for judges -- including the big kahuna candyman himself, Willy Wonka. To all the sugar-buzzed hams out there, surf's up! 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 19. Six Flags WaterWorld, 9001 Kirby. For information, call 713-799-8404. -- Troy Schulze
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Laugh and Learn
If your kid isn't so good about sharing his toys, perhaps a trip to Magic Theatre will help. The Children's Theatre Festival production teaches values such as generosity and kindness while entertaining the little jerks with comedy. The show runs from Friday, July 18, through August 3 at the Lyndall Finley Wortham Theatre at the University of Houston, entrance no. 16 (off I-45 and Cullen Boulevard). For information, call 713-743-2929. $6 to $7. -- Cathy Matusow