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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey farewell performance is ‘Out Of This World’

Big+Cat+Trainer+Alexander+Lacey+arranges+lions+and+tigers+in+line+to+give+the+crowd+a+big+roar.+The+Ringling+Bros.+and+Barnum+%26+Bailey+Circus%27+last+performance+will+be+in+2017+after+146+years.
Big Cat Trainer Alexander Lacey arranges lions and tigers in line to give the crowd a big roar. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus' last performance will be in 2017 after 146 years.

Big Cat Trainer Alexander Lacey arranges lions and tigers in line to give the crowd a big roar. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus' last performance will be in 2017 after 146 years.

Pia Scotto

Pia Scotto

Big Cat Trainer Alexander Lacey arranges lions and tigers in line to give the crowd a big roar. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus' last performance will be in 2017 after 146 years.

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The lights dim, signifying the show is about to start. I look around at the thousands of people in the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore. I can’t believe my eyes when my family and I take our seats in the second row, so close that we’re practically in the show I’ve loved since I was young: Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

This trip was so sentimental because of the surprise factor from my family and the actual timing of it all. Before last May, Ringling announced that, due to activists speaking out on their well-being, elephants would have their last show appearance around 2018. Instead of having them in the circus, the family would move the elephants to Florida to be a part of their Center for Elephant Conservation. This date was moved up one year from 2018 to 2017, meaning their last show with elephants would be held on May 2.

Hearing this news was super upsetting since I attended these shows when I was little, but it was understandable since it dealt with the safety of the animals. But the bad news wasn’t over, as Kenneth Feld, the producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus, posted on their website on Jan. 14, 2017. He stated that it would be the circus’s last year on tour after 146 years, concluding with show dates in May. According to Feld, it was due to declining ticket sales, especially after the leaving of the elephants, and a high operating cost making it an “unsustainable business.”

Looking around from my seat, the atmosphere was already incredible. In front of us was an ice rink which made me wonder as to how parts would be on ice. Above the rink, in honor of the tour being entitled ‘Out Of This World,’ were colored planets dangling from string, along with spaceship decorations and a formal ‘blast off countdown.’ After the countdown ended, BOOM!

Astronaut skaters came on the ice, astronaut-dressed acrobats traveled up a moving device known as a “giant semaphore,” and the most surprising of all, the once “planets” were revealed as clear balls simply covered by cloth. The cloth fell off, and acrobats were shown dancing and contorting in the balls, shocking us all, since no one expected anyone to ever be in there.

With so many incredible acts happening all at once and the loud cheers of the crowd, it was clear that although it was their farewell tour, they were not taking it easy. Instead, they were going out with a big bang!

After more incredible acts and skaters followed, an interesting plot line was introduced. An evil queen named Tatiana was trying to steal ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson’s clowns and telescope because “there can only be one circus.” She wanted to be in the best one and take all the amazing circus performers back to the Earth.

The plotline was not only hilarious, but acted as an incredible shift from act to act as the audience sees “the best acts” in different lands, followed by battles between Tatiana and Iverson with their telescope chase.

All of the acts were absolutely breathtaking and did nothing less than leave us in awe. But if I had to address a few highlights, one would have to be the animals, especially the lions and tigers, who jumped over each other and gave the tamer a big slobbery kiss.

The other animal act that pulled the audience in was the big pig next to cute puppies, who did tricks in unison and followed each other in a conga line with the dogs on two feet.

Another would be seeing an effortless attempt at not five, not six, but seven motorcycles spin around a steel motorcycle cage with harmonious flashes of the LED lights.

Later on in the show, the performers even rode horses. It wasn’t your typical horseback riding. Instead, they flew through the air and did tricks by spinning on the top of the horse or flipping on the side. Some performers even dangled off the running horse with nothing keeping them on but their one leg wrapped around the underbelly of the horse.

With a fun storyline, mind-blowing acts, and delivery that brought all smiles, the show was amazing. There’s something incredible about watching a clown climb a 47-foot ladder and do a handstand once at the top while laughing the whole time.

Although they will not be touring anymore, it’s no surprise why they have been for 146 years. Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey’s Circus not only blew everyone into another galaxy, but truly lived up to their title of “greatest show on earth.”

Pia Scotto is a Community Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com

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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey farewell performance is ‘Out Of This World’