Farewell Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus


Let me start by stating – if you are a circus hater.. stop reading, go away, and don’t bother commenting. This isn’t for the haters but for those of us who have wonderful memories of going to the circus.

Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus held one of their final shows in Providence this past weekend. I was one of the thousands of people who went to be part of this historical event. The end of an era.

I have magical memories of the first time I went to the circus. I was a very small girl living in Brooklyn, it was truly an exciting day. It’s funny how memories work. I remember the smell of the hay and the peanuts; and I remember the excitement I felt. The day started with a trip into the city; to Madison Square Garden. I remember the giant elephants before the show, we were so close and we were able to feed them peanuts. The other memory I have is of all the beautiful costumes.

18423830_1421443994581876_8370069210030551974_n.jpgMy parents love to share the story of the very first time my older brother Doug went to the circus. He was little, probably 2 or 3, and loved it so much he cried when it was over. Fifty plus years later my same brother got a little teary eyed when he heard the circus was closing.

Today’s world is filled with razzle dazzle and instant gratification, it’s easy to forget what the circus offered. There weren’t broadcasts or videos of extreme cheerleading, gymnastics, or other acrobatic stunts.  You couldn’t google tight-rope walkers and watch someone walk between buildings.

Years ago when the circus came to town it’s likely that most who went to the circus had only seen photos of elephants, tigers, zebras, camels, and maybe even horses.  Most people didn’t live near a zoo and zoos weren’t anything like they are today. The first time I probably saw an elephant was at the circus.

The show this weekend was fantastic.  We saw an amazing tight-rope act, a women get shot out of a cannon, and the very first woman ring master. Taba the tiger trainer demonstrated great love for his animals and circus family. He thanked the audience and all the people behind the scenes for making his time with the circus spectacular. It was a touching moment during the show.

My trip to the circus this weekend wasn’t as magical as my first time but it will be as memorable. I went with my parents, brothers, sister-in-law, and nieces and nephews. We went to cheer on those who have brought joy to so many for over 150 years. It’s strange to think that one day when I have grandchildren they won’t know what the circus is.

If you missed their visit to Providence don’t worry. The last-ever Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show will be broadcast LIVE on Facebook, in its entirety, on Sunday, May 21 at 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.  Join the world as we watch The Greatest Show On Earth take its final bow!

Below is a video of the last time the circus train will travel through Uxbridge courtesy of Brenda Marshall who made the video public on facebook – thank you Brenda.

About Jennifer Doyle


  1. Joy Langley says:

    Great article. I too have wonderful memories of going to the circus and later taking our godkids. Very sad to see yet another beautiful tradition fade away.

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