Our hearts go out to Feld Entertainment, particularly the Greatest Show On Earth family, with this weekend’s announcement that the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus will close its tent doors in May 2017.
In 1972, my parents took me to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum to see my first Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey show. I still vividly remember the colors, the pageantry, the excitement, the music, and I never imagined I would have a place in the legacy of this magnificent spectacle. For me, there is a profound irony in the final show happening in the same place where my dream began. I’m happy to say, my parents still live close to the Coliseum. You can be sure we’ll be there on May 21st to bow our heads, give gratitude to the life of this extraordinary American institution and say a humble farewell to Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey the Greatest Show On Earth.
The Feld family has been a noble steward of an extraordinary American legacy for almost half a century, and it is unquestionable that their contributions to the entertainment world have ushered in new and engaging attractions for 21st century audiences. Feld’s decision to end the Greatest Show On Earth was surely agonized, and this decision must be seen as one of the most courageous, yet sorrowful choices made in American business history.
No matter what year or moment in time, the nature of humankind is to be curious, explore, learn and advance our lives. We all pursue joy and well-being for ourselves, for our children and grandchildren, and we know that it is our divine right to be happy. P.T Barnum acknowledged ‘happiness’ as his sole purpose and even said, “The noblest art is that of making others happy.” For almost 150 years, the Greatest Show On Earth has stimulated our imaginations and brought happiness to light. From 1872 to today, the great American circus has enthralled, mesmerized and enchanted tens of millions of show-goers, and memories of the magic of the circus have been passed down through generations. To the millions of fans around the world, Feld served as a gallant emissary of ‘happiness’ and has earned its place in the pantheon of American circus history.
P.T. Barnum built all his enterprises based on the needs and desires of his audiences and he boldly pursued opportunities that embraced innovation and encouraged transformation. As the 21st century marches forward and as times, tastes and technologies change, we look forward to the next generation of attractions and experiences that will delight, amuse and bring wonderment. We honor the past, and re-imagine our world as we move into the future.
As we begin our final goodbyes to the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey show, be assured that the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut will persevere and keep P.T. Barnum’s great dreams alive — bringing joy and wonder to children of all ages! For the Barnum Museum, the show will go on.