Baraboo’s mayor has acknowledged what circus fans have known for a generation: Singing ringmaster David SaLoutos is a gem.

During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Mike Palm handed SaLoutos the Baraboo Gem Award, given to citizens who make the Circus City prosperous.

A Baraboo native, SaLoutos joined Circus World’s staff in 1978, but left to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He returned in 1985, and became the big top show’s singing ringmaster five years later. He was one of the driving forces behind the Great Circus Parade.

“David has become an ambassador for the circus and this community through his appearances around the Midwest,” Palm said, reading a proclamation in SaLoutos’ honor. “His iconic image is instantly recognizable to thousands of people.

In addition to his work at Circus World, SaLoutos serves on the Sauk County Historical Society board. He’s a key contributor to that organization’s annual Edwardian Christmas event at the Van Orden Mansion.

SaLoutos has performed with Kids from Wisconsin, Jerry Stich’s Campus Singers and the Wisconsin Singers. He has served as First Presbyterian Church’s organist since 1970.

The honoree thanked teachers and colleagues for their encouragement and support. “I happened to have landed just right, representing an industry — the circus — that I love dearly,” SaLoutos said, “and working for the best institution in the world, which just happens to be in my hometown.”

Known for sporting a long, red coat and closing performances with the line, “May all your days be circus days,” SaLoutos also serves as the museum’s performance director and marketing director. He not only emcees the show, but helps create and promote it.

“It’s been a wonderful life, and I’m looking forward to many more years,” SaLoutos said.

Tuscania memorial

In other business Tuesday, the council voted unanimously to approve placing a World War I memorial along the Baraboo Riverwalk at Mary Rountree Evans Park.

A bronze relief will honor the 21 local survivors of a German attack on the ship Tuscania in 1918. The memorial and any necessary landscaping will be donated by boosters raising money for the $90,000 project.

Follow Ben Bromley on Twitter @ben_bromley

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