My wife and I recently took our 9 year old nephew to see the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus at the Izod Center located in the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J. I remember going to the circus with my aunt when I was a kid at Madison Square Garden in New York and except for more glitz and glamour the circus is pretty much the same. My wife wanted tickets for the afternoon show at 3 p.m., but made a mistake when ordering online and got the morning show at 11 a.m. instead so we had to get up early. I was surprised to see almost a sold out show that early as the Izod Center holds several thousand people. All seats except for the top tier all around were sold out then.
Ringling Brothers has been around for two centuries now starting in the late 1800’s and still retains the same kind of acts: High flying trapeze acts, lions and tigers, elephants, assorted acrobats and clowns. The ring master is a tall African American fellow with a deep booming voice that is great for announcing acts. I remembered him and a few clowns from last year too.
Outside the center there were animal rights activists with bullhorns urging people not to attend saying the circus abuses the animals and had pictures of them being beaten. When my nephew asked if they really did that, I started to say something to that effect and my wife gently tapped me on the shoulder saying to “not say anything to him.” 😉
The entire show is 2 ½ hours long with a half hour intermission and goes by fast. The show opens up with an elephant coming out with a young woman riding on top holding an American flag while the Star Spangled Banner plays and yes everyone did stand up in respect of our National Anthem.
The ringmaster introduces the circus with those now familiar words throughout the years, ”Ladies and Gentlemen and children of all ages. Welcome to the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus.” The performers all come out and march around the arena for everyone to see. My nephew’s and my favorite act is the “Globe of Steel” where eight motorcyclists enter a steel globe one by one and ride around it at lightning speed careful to avoid hitting each other. They are introduced one by one with the ringmaster urging everyone on saying, “Do you want to see one more?” and the audience responds with a resounding “YESSSS” and another cycle enters the globe. This is repeated until all eight cyclists are rushing around inside the globe upside down and sideways. Quite an accomplishment and very exciting. I often wondered if there were any injuries when first performing this and rehearsing for it.
Another great act is a group of about ten horseback riders who call themselves “The Riders of the Wind”. They perform all kinds of standing and acrobatic acts while on horseback. One horse is running around in a circle with no saddle and a rider runs along side of him and leaps up on his back in a standing position and stays on him like that standing for a couple of laps around the ring before jumping off. The horses looked beautiful and well cared for.
There was also the assorted elephant tricks with the elephants standing on their hind legs with their front legs on each other’s back sides, etc.
The circus is still great entertainment for the whole family. If you get a chance to go, just be sure to bring lots of extra cash because the souvenirs and refreshments like soda and popcorn and cotton candy are so very overpriced.