Ringling Bros. Circus’ Closing Bow of ‘Greatest Show on Earth’
After nearly 150 years, the show will not go on for the iconic Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which is performing its final act Sunday.
Throughout its 146 year history, the massive, traveling circus elated crowds from small towns to big cities across America with its exotic animals, mile-long trains and death-defying feats.
As Ringling Bros. prepares to take its final bow before a sold-out crowd at Nassau Coliseum in the suburbs of New York City, circus performers and enthusiasts lamented the shutting down of “The Greatest Show on Earth.”
Ringling Bros. Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson said that the show was “one of these wonderful dynamic miracles in the annals of time, and that’s where it’s going.”
“It’ll be in the memories of many people for years to come,” he said, adding, “It doesn’t feel good, of course, you know that such a storied institution is at its end, but everything comes to an end.”
Ringling is “the grandparent” of the circus art form and many other kinds of modern live entertainment, according to Scott O’Donnell, a former performer with Ringling and now executive director of Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
“The thought of it not being there is sad and bewildering,” said Mr. O’Donnell. “It’ll live on through those in our art form, and it will always be remembered fondly and respectfully for really being sort of the trailblazer, there are not too many brands that have been around for 146 years.”
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ roots trace back to Y 1871, with showman P.T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling American Museum.
But the “Greatest Show on Earth” truly began after 1919, when the Barnum & Bailey Circus merged with the separate Ringling Bros. circus, which had been founded in Y 1884.
In its prime, Ringling was an “enormous” operation, and its three-ring tent seated 12,000 people and featured two stages, Gary Payne, president of the Circus Fans Association of America, said.
“Depending on where you sat, you would see a completely different show, it was that enormous,” he said.
Have a terrific weekend.
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