After reading that the Ringling Brothers And Barnum & Bailey Circus was shutting its doors after 146 years on the road, memories of going to the circus came flooding in.
I’m proud to say that one of the highlights of my childhood was going to the circus. Back then I was growing up in Connecticut, where I went with my family to the Civic Center in Hartford to bear witness to the three-ring spectacle unfolding before my eyes. To me it was pure magic. There was always something dazzling to see that left me with a sense of wonder that accompanied me on the way home.
There are a few performers I saw that left such a lasting impression on me that even today I can still recall their performances. One such perfomer was the legendary lion tamer Gunther Gebel-Williams. There he was, dressed in his trademark sleeveless vest and fearlessly frolicking with the giant cats in his company. He was always the highlight of the show. My mother tells me that one year I even got to meet him personally, but I was too young to remember. I was probably still in diapers then.
Another performer I fondly remember is Mishu, one of the world’s shortest men. I still remember the sight of him dressed in a glittery outfit while waving his equally glittery top hat.
If there was one thing I enjoyed the most at the circus, it was watching the clowns. I consider myself fortunate not to be afraid of them and always delighted in watching their zany antics. The one act I’ll always remember was several clowns climbing a free standing ladder. They made it look so easy.
The last time I went to the circus was during the 1990’s at the West Palm Beach Auditorium. The magic was still there, but I was now older and more concerned about the well-being of the animals. On the way home, my car broke down but that’s another story.
And now the circus is closing. There may never be another spectacle like it again.