Whenever I’m tempted to get all nostalgic when something old and cherished is about to go the way of all flesh/things…. I always pull up short and ask myself a question: when was the last time I or anyone I know actually went there?
In the case of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus …its been decades.
Don’t get me wrong..I grew up on the circus… loved the circus…my old man…God rest him …used to take us kids there every year. He was notoriously tight with a dollar…but at the circus… the man sprung for hot dogs and cotton candy. The tigers and elephants were cool and scary ..but my favorite act….? The unicycle basketball guys.. they just looked to be having so much fun….. not all death defying and serious like the high wire or the trapeze acrobats.
Now though…The fun is just about done for Ringling Brothers….by now you’ve probably heard…the circus is closing up shop…After 146 years. They say the business model doesn’t work anymore.
Yeah…its sad …sort of …. But if we’re realistic we probably should have seen it coming… Last time I saw Ringling brothers it was as an uncle escorting my niece and nephew. I talked to the boy…he’s now in law school.. .. and doesn’t even remember.
But I do. the unicycle ballers were still rolling..but what stuck in my mind then were the ‘wild’ animals. The Tiger taming act didn’t seem all cool and dangerous any more…. the beasts just looked dejected… like this whole act was beneath their dignity and somehow they knew it.
That was more than 20 years ago. Since then we’ve seen the growth of everything from Cirque de soleil to youtube…all competing for those same young eyeballs….and all taking a toll on that beleaguered 3 ring business model.
while its always a bit tragic when a beloved institution fades away before its time. The good news is…that’s not what happened to Ringling brothers.