The Greatest Show On Earth Bids Farewell (photos)
The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which is calling it quits after 146 years, visited the Washington, D.C., area for the last time this past weekend at the Verizon Center. Feld Entertainment, the family-owned business which has owned Ringling Bros. for the past 50 years, announced in January that the circus would close in May (in New York), a victim of high operating costs and declining ticket sales. "The business model wasn't sustainable anymore," said Stephen Payne, vice president of communications.
The 2017 edition on display at the Verizon Center was not your father's circus.
Titled "Out of this World," it displayed space age special effects, performers on ice skates and basketball playing acrobats on unicycles. Gone were the traditional three rings and sawdust — replaced by one large ice rink. Circus veteran ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson set the pace with his booming bigtop voice, accompanied by charismatic 3'4" Brazilian acrobat Paulo dos Santos. Circus-goers at the Verizon center were treated to an attempt at a very rare quadruple somersault by trapeze artist Ammed Tuniziani. Alexander Lacy again showed his complete mastery over more than a dozen lions and tigers. And who could resist the thrill as members of the Torres Family buzzed about on motorcycles just inches apart in "the Globe of Death"? Gone, however, were the elephants, which in years past seemed to define the circus. Who can forget the parade of elephants marching past the Capitol?
The circus departed from the District with a sendoff from ringmaster Iverson: "May all your day's be Barnum & Bailey days. Farewell from the GREATEST SHOW ON EARRRRTH."
[Circus fans will still have a chance to see the show at the EagleBank Arana (formerly the Patriot Center) on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, April 7-16.}
View Jeff Malet's photos of the Friday March 31 show at the Verizon Center by clicking on the photo icons below