"Ladies and gentleman, children of all ages, welcome to the greatest show on Earth!"
From the time that opening line is spoken and throughout the next two plus hours, if you're sitting in the audience of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus as we were the other night, you are in for a real treat.
The Rose Garden Arena was absolutely electric with spectators from just a few years old to those well into their eighties. As I looked around during the show, the one thing all of us seemed to have in common was a sense of wonder and excitement. It was as if time stood still even if it was for just a couple of hours during a late summer's evening. Children didn't have any dictated set of rules to follow and the adults were free to let the stress of the "daily grind" melt away.
All of us watched as the acrobats twirled and flipped through the air making their high flying leaps and jumps with the greatest of ease.
There were elephants that performed, dare I say, graciously, and of course the other circus must, tigers. 700+ pounds each of kitty cat and one brave (or crazy) guy leading them through their various maneuvers.
This rather odd looking photo to the right is of an acrobat performing on a set of rings high above the arena floor. There were six separate performers on six different sets of rings all doing the same moves in unison. Most of the photos I took turned out pretty crappy because of the low lighting and the distance away for my small camera. This shot however was kind of cool. By leaving the shutter open for just a bit I was able to get this nice effect from the movement and color. FYI I didn't alter this shot in any way, just a lucky capture.
One of the things that amazed me (there were many) were the motorcycle riders in the sphere. I was pretty impressed when there were four of them zipping around the sixteen foot diameter sphere, but then they upped the ante to five and finally to seven! With speeds of around 65 mph there was no room for error. I just kept thinking to myself, "How on Earth do you practice for something like this?"
There were jugglers and contortionists, trick riders on horses and even more amazing acrobats. They seemed to have all the usual players that I remembered from the last time I'd been to a circus so many years ago, and they of course had clowns. Loud, silly, gregarious clowns. Come on, you didn't think I was going to forget about them did you?
They seemed to work the crowd perfectly too. In between acts these guys and gals would carry on keeping everyone in stitches while the stage workers set up for the next performance. The cool thing was you hardly ever noticed any of the set up or breakdown of other things because the clowns were so entertaining. I've got to think that is a pretty good gig, being a complete goofball and getting paid for it.
Well, there you go. A glimpse of my trip to the circus. If you ask anybody in my family if it was worth it, you're get a unanimous YES!