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May All Your Days Be Circus Days

I didn't want to wake up this morning.

But I did. And lay in bed for several minutes with my eyes closed.

Eventually I got up, taking the sheets off my bed as I did so. I made breakfast and ate it, then threw away any leftover food and turned the fridge temperature down. I unplugged everything in the room. I got dressed, did my hair, brushed my teeth, then packed the rest of my things in a suitcase. I gathered together my sheets and trash, took them to a dumpster outside, and threw them away. I loaded the car with the last of my belongings, including my house plants. Then I went back to my room, my home for the past five years. I've seen mountains and fields and deserts and oceans through that window. I wiped every surface, and carefully dusted the floor. I left the keys to the door, the vestibule, and the shower on the counter. And with that, my time living on the circus train is over.

Outside, I took this picture, then drove away.

Many others packed up and moved out today too, but many more are staying on the train for one final night. Most of the moving out will take place on Monday, which is part of the reason I'm doing it early. That train yard is going to be chaos. I'd rather be able to say goodbye now.

At the arena, the sadness was palpable. Everyone I passed tried to smile and say "good morning" like we always do, but it was hard for me and for them. I could see it and feel it.

The first show went well, it was sold out. Benny Ibarra is back in with the Wheel act...I think he'd rather die than miss out on the last shows.

After the first show of the day, we had a full-cast picture. It took a while to get everyone situated. The band got to stand up over the portal, kinda cool.

After the photo I went to Pie Car Jr to use my food ticket. They had salmon! I love when Pie Car does fish. Thank you Pie Car chefs and staff for delicious food over the years. Special thanks to Uncle John for the "extra-special" desserts, and for being an awesome chef and an awesome human being.

The second show went...rather quickly, it seemed to me. Benny's act was out again, so we played Emergency Music. I hope he'll be able to perform the final show, but also don't want him to break his neck. During this show there was a camera crew on the floor making the rounds. I wonder if it's for a news segment or a documentary or what.

And too soon, only one show left. It seemed like everyone I ran into backstage was trying to get an autograph, or a photo, or just a hug. There are many great photos and statements being put up online. Everything's starting to sink in, and all of us were scurrying around backstage just trying to BE THERE. Several former musicians came to visit the band, including Nick Trombetta, Ben O'Shea, and another gentleman whose name I can't recall (I'm so sorry!). They brought us food and memories from their time on the road. And the clock just kept ticking.

Finally it was time.

This show FLEW by, it really did. All of the little moments that I share with dancers and acrobats and floor crew during the show were tinged with sorrow. We all wanted to go out in the best possible way, and did our best to put on a great show.

During intermission there was a toast in the band dressing room. In the past we have done this for the final show of the year. And now we were doing it for the last time ever. When we each had our drinks, we raised them high...and that was pretty much it. No flowery words. There was nothing to say.

It was time for the second half. Near the end of the tiger act, Taba (tiger trainer) broke down and cried as his cats prepared for their last trick together. He was sobbing, and his daughter was standing outside the cage sobbing as well. She has been on the road with him for almost her entire life, and also works with the tigers. Taba thanked his assistants, and his family in the audience, and ended his act for good.

Benny was back in to perform the wheel act one more time. He did a great job and did not break his neck :)

The BMX act was pretty insane. I'm hoping someone will post footage of it because they definitely went all-out. Great job guys.

The band played the Finale music, and then Ringmaster Kristen Michelle Wilson came out to give a speech. The video is kinda long and kinda bumps around a lot because people were coming up to hug me and such. But here it is, our final farewell. After the speech she sang Auld Lang Syne (a longtime circus tradition), and then the band had to play some exit music so I had to throw my phone down quickly. You're going to hear me play some wrong notes, sorry. And then we closed with an arrangement of Entrance of the Gladiators, just to "stick it to the man" one final time.

And that was it. It was all over. The Feld family came down from the seats and shook our hands and took pictures with some people. We went around hugging each other and crying-not-crying, and promising to see each other again and keep in touch. Over and over again, I heard the words "My door is always open." "My home is always open to you." "If you need anything, call me, no matter where you are." Circus family is wonderful and continues to be wonderful. It's an awful shame that all of this has come to an end the way it has. But it was beautiful while it lasted, wouldn't you agree?

(Note: this is an older cast photo, not the one that was taken tonight.)

After the crowd had left and goodbyes had been said, after all of the hoopla of the circus closing, it was time to pack it all up for the last time.

The less-glamorous necessity of tearing down is up to all of the dedicated floor crew and Teamsters. It's fitting that this group of people with incredible work ethic and hearts of gold should lay this show to rest. Thank you guys for being our beating heart all this time.

As I was about to walk away for the last time, a gentleman in a hard hat stopped me and asked if I'd like a picture in front of the portal. I thanked him profusely. Why not. I could not be prouder to be standing under this logo in my partial costume, with floor crew loading out in the background and the Red Unit dissolving around me. This was the circus, and I got to be a part of it.

And with that it was really over. I took all of my things out to the car and drove to a hotel, where I typed all this out and cried a little. There's still a part of me that's just devastated. It feels like a part of my soul was taken out and is gone forever. Yet as I move forward in my life...as all of us move forward and adjust as best we can...I will strive to keep and cherish a little bit of circus magic. I have learned so much here, and while the experiences I've had are now only memories, certain things can remain to be shared with others. My circus family is not lost, only scattered. My boyfriend is in a different time zone, but I still love him. There are things to look forward to.

Tomorrow I begin the drive to Kansas City and a new job. Many of you have asked whether I'll keep writing in this blog. For now I can say YES, at least through the Blue Unit's final shows. After that, all I can say is WE'LL SEE. Any new posts will come on Sundays as usual. Next week, look forward to more photos from the final days of the Red Unit as I'm sure many will be posted after tonight.

In closing please enjoy some circus stories that I've gathered from many circus people and circus fans over the past few weeks. I am happy to add more stories to this post if anyone was left out or has something to add/share. Thank you to everyone who participated in this project, I hope you will enjoy these memories for years to come.

May All Your Days Be Circus Days.

I would say for sure was the time a pretty young lady asked me if I would show her the generator (that's me he's talking about, lol). What is the most famous about the circus...working with everybody on the red show, nowhere to go, electrician for about seven years, probably long train rides are the best of all. - “Bad” Charlie, Electrician, Red Unit, 7 years

My favorite memory would have to be both times I got to be in the show. First time was for Bellobration and Bello came and got me and another kid during the show to do an act on the floor. Second time was when I won a prize to open Out of This World. But regardless of that I have made a lifetime of memories that I will forever remember and cherish. What I will miss the most would have to be not being able to work for Ringling in the future. I'm 15 but ever since I saw my first show when i was about 6 or 7 I have gone to every single one of them and have dreamed (literally) of being a part of them. What I'm looking forward to after the circus is to see what's next. If they will ever reopen it in maybe a permanent location in Florida or do something completely different. I hope they eventually do something but for now all we can do is wait.
– Anthony Turturino., Biggest Ringling Bros Fanatic

My favorite memory of Ringling is seeing it as a small boy in Allentown, PA in the 1950's. Also several years ago, Joe Colossa gave me a tour of his living quarters on the Blue Unit Train. I am going to miss the arrival of the Ringling Train every May in Hershey, PA.
– Joe Dougherty., Former Ringling Employee

Nov. 1970 in New Haven, CT. The thrill as a Circus Fan of being allowed up close to do photos of Gunther Gebel Williams tiger act!
– James Cole, Cole Bros. Circus

I am going to miss so many things because the circus is not just one thing. Most of all the circus is hope to us. Pierce was adopted and taken in by clown alley. They love him and he loves them back. We have spent 5 years of our life traveling around the country to be with our second family. They spend Thanksgiving with us when in Chicago. And every time we are with them there is hope. Hope that Pierce will exceed any expectation of what he can achieve. Hope that there is a future for my child that lives to be a Ringling clown. When the news came out he kept saying to me, "Mom. I will never be a Ringling clown." My favorite memories are him with his clowns. They have taught him to be a good person and do his homework as well as to juggle and put on his make up. I am eternally grateful and love them all more than they will ever know. For me it will be the ability to escape and fit in. When I am at the circus I am free. I don't care if the house burns down. I will deal with it when I get there. I am accepted and loved for who I am. I have gotten an incredible friend in Cindy Trent (schoolteacher). I have added members to my family with Brandon Foster and Dustin Portillo (clowns). The circus is in my heart and I am proud and honored to have spent time with all of you. – Kimberly Lotz Wittnebel, Circus Fan

I loved being able to tell my students that I had a friend who lived on a train and traveled all while doing what she loves...playing the trombone. It definitely inspired them one way or another. I'm also forever grateful that my family got to see/hear you perform and got to see the Greatest Show on Earth! - Beth Ann Marie Scamby, Friend.

What I'm going to miss most about Ringling Bros circus in particular is that my Grandchildren will never see the Greatest Show on Earth Red/Blue units perform in a full Colliseum setting in their lifetimes. – Megan Ivey, Circus Fan

I have so many...I spent 12 years on Red. I met my husband there, and was married in Ring 2 on Oct. 2, 1998. On Sept 20, 1996, I arrived in Oklahoma City, saw the show that night. I knew then I had joined something great. Had no idea the journey I would be on the next 12 years. Originally had only planned to stay one year. My life changed. I met lifetime friends, laughed, cried, celebrated, and danced a living. I look back at pictures, there is one taken from behind my back of me riding Baby. It faces the audience. It says it all. By then I was married, and as a couple we went to work each day and to bring 2 hours of happiness to children of all ages for 12 years. Those years will forever define who we are. – Lisa Glover, Ringling Dancer, 12yrs

My favorite circus memory was getting to spend the entire day hanging out at the show this year. I've gone to the circus every year since I was two. And I will miss moments like this, getting to be on a personal level with the cast and crew. Thanks for all you've done! – Ryan George, circus fan

My favorite circus memory really comes from a feeling. I think it originated at the Ringing Bros. 133rd circus with Bello and Johnathan Iverson. Iverson is singing, “Can you feel it? It’s the circus…” and everything he’s saying is exactly how it feels. It’s a huge spectacle. It’s sensory overload. Everywhere you look is a mass of colors, smells, sound, awe. It starts from the first note and goes to the last. There is nothing else like that feeling. I have never felt it anywhere else. It’s incredible to be a part of something like that (as an audience member) and I am deeply saddened that it’s over. – Laura Giles, Circus Fan

I'll miss continuing to experience all the joy and escapism Ringling Brothers had given me across five decades. As a child who was bullied and who didn't feel like I fit in, the circus was a complete escape from reality. It brought me to a world of wonder and amazement where anything was possible and where everyone belonged. I've continued to visit all my life, and I've looked forward to every edition with enthusiasm and anticipation. My life is good now, but the circus is still a joy and an escape. As it's end approaches, I'm having a more difficult time accepting that it's actually ending. My boyfriend and I traveled five hours to New Jersey for our only opportunity to see Out of This World, and I'll be in Providence for one of the final performances of Circus Xtreme. It'll be my fifth time attending Circus Xtreme -- the most times I've attended a single edition. – Greg Giroux, Circus Fan

In 2008 my husband (at the time he was my fiancé), Tom, joined the Red Unit for the “Zing Zang Zoom” tour. He would be on the road with Ringling for 6+ years. While our time apart was not always ideal, I knew he was out doing what he loved every day. Little did I know he would be a part of what will shortly become “an American pastime”. There are so many memories, but to be honest most were shared via phone conversations with my husband. Each day while he was on the road we did everything we could to talk (cell service can be spotty sometimes). We would talk about how the show went, or what he did in the town where they were located. Sometimes it was about whom he was hanging with that day and what they did after the show (usually it was either a meal or the movies). We even talked about what he was seeing from his train car window during the “train runs”. This was all while planning our wedding and buying our first home.

I guess I’ll share the first I saw “Zing Zang Zoom” in 2009. I had not been to a circus in decades. I smiled the entire time. The atmosphere was infectious. I found myself full of awe, pride, and love of the circus. Admittedly my favorite part was the elephants. When they came out for the opening I was struck by their majesty and beauty. I’m pretty sure I shed a tear or two. After seeing the show numerous times I concluded that the elephants were my favorite part. I was thrilled by all the other acts, but the elephants really were glorious. I continued to bring new groups of friends with me to experience the show and watch their reactions. I clapped, screamed, laughed and cheered. I always stayed to the end to hear the exit music finish and enthusiastically applaud the band. Afterwards I would walk down towards the bandstand to say hello to Tom and some of his band mates. Then I would wait outside to meet up with him to talk about the show and how much I enjoyed it; because I did enjoy it every single time.

I’m also glad my family got to see the circus. My parents, brother, brother’s fiancé, aunts, uncles, cousins, close family friends all took the time to see the show when it was in Louisville, KY. My parents went to the elephant walk. We all saw the show together. My mom made a scrapbook about their time watching the show and the elephant walk. I actually look through the scrapbook every time I go home because it’s so great to remember these wonderful times. It’s a treasured memory of time spent with my brother. If you want more stories, I’m always happy to share because. My heart breaks that it is coming to an end; however, I have the memories -these wonderful, cherished memories of being a circus wife. I wouldn’t have it any other way. – Jennifer McDonough

Throughout my childhood, my dad took me to every circus that came to town, but our favorite of course was Ringling. When I was very young and someone would ask "What do you want to be when you grow up?", the first answer I had was "Ringmaster at the circus". The answer eventually changed to "Animal trainer at the circus". When I was about to graduate college, we were discussing where I would go next when he said "You know...if you're ever actually going to join the circus...now's the time to do it." A few months later I joined the Red Unit in Dallas, TX. My plan was to stay for two years. I ended up staying for nearly 6. I absolutely loved my job. The lifestyle was exhilarating, and I felt like we were doing good work, making people happy every day, and convincing people to care about animals. I am so thankful that I took the chance to pursue a dream when I had the opportunity. While on the show I met and fell in love with my now-husband. With Ringling closing, we will never be able to share it with our son, who is three months old. This, for me, is truly heartbreaking. – Jessi Gorman, Ringling Vet Tech, 6yrs

(photo courtesy Betsey W.)

I think one my favorite things was breakfast with Cindy (schoolteacher) and the clowns. We always had great stories about the week and of course Uncle John (Pie Car Chef) makes the best breakfast. I think the scariest thing that has ever happened to me was when the boys caught me on fire my last day. After that they signed all over my body. It was crazy. – Joshua Bunch (TJ), Wardrobe

I have two favorite RBB&B memories. One was catching the Red Unit about 1978 or 1979 in St. Louis and hearing Keith Greene's incredible high-note trumpet playing. He sounded like Maynard Ferguson but with better sound up there. The other memory was playing under the baton of retired RBB&B Bandmaster Merle Evans in 1983. We played the infamous "Hungarian Medley" for an acrobatic act at the Sailor Circus in Sarasota. Playing under him, clad in his bright red uniform, was a thrill like none other! – Andrew Glover, Circus Fan

Going down to the main Southern line through Fairfax in the middle of the night. A time of day when they could stop the bull cars on the mainline and unload them. Waiting in the dark with marketing director friend until they finally showed up. From there it was a short walk up to George Mason's Arena. There just isn't anything like watching elephants, riding on elephants, and feeding them! – Carl Anthony Bly

Here's my memories. Being alongside some great animals and people and traveling from place to place. I am continuing my work with large animals. On show for about 4 years. - Mike Grosso, Animal Handler and Barn Attendant

(photo courtesy Mike G. NOTE: Yes, Mike is holding a bullhook. If you have questions about proper use of the bullhook, please ask before making accusations or assumptions. Thank you.)

Favorite Ringling memory: I don't have a picture but one day back on 142 in Rochester, Alex Lacey's daughter was helping with the fuzzies ("fuzzies" = ponies, goats. This was long before Katie was even a part of the show). I turned around at the pie car and noticed two of the mini goats dragging her across the street back to the compound, I thought she was joking. I then saw, Alex, Papa, and Petrov sprinting across the street behind her attempting to stop the goats. Another great one is from Mexico City when one of the donkeys got away from Roselli (bus driver, but since we didn't have a bus they made him help with fuzzies.) He sat at the bottom of the ramp yelling, "Bye donkey!" Meanwhile Jon Miller was at the top of the ramp leading the elephants, strafing back and forth attempting to prevent a stampede! - Matt Loory, Blue Pie Car Manager 2013-2015

(photo of Matt courtesy tastychomps.com)

When in Sarasota quarters I was pleased to have a handshake from Ar Concello and John Ringling North. – Paul Tharp

I have a great memory, it was [wanting to] be a clown with Frosty Little, along with many other legends. If it was not for Ringling I wouldn't be a clown. Frosty told me a lot in a letter about the old days and so much about clowning. – Paul Niemczyk, Clown

(photo of Frosty Little courtesy Wikipedia)

Below is an audio recording of an "interview" with Joe, who works in concessions (we call it FCP). During the final company party Joe offered to tell me some circus stories if I'd come find him on the concourse the next day. This is raw audio, so there is some background noise, including the sound of Joe cutting lemons on a cutting board in preparation for making lemonade to sell. (Insert "when life gives you lemons" joke here).

Throughout my entire life, I remember seeing the Circus Trains passing through town here in Lebanon, PA and the surrounding areas. My Grandma and Grandpa Moyer loved being able to see the Circus Train pass by. And I always enjoyed all the times my Dad and I got to see it. My Grandpa and Grandma have since passed away and so has my Dad now as of October of 2016. Every year the Circus would come into Hershey my Dad and I would go see the train sitting in the Harrisburg Intermodal Yard. As I got older and got into Railfanning more, and joined the various Circus Train groups on FaceBook as well as the Circus Train Yahoo Group, I was able to see where the trains were all the time and I always enjoyed being able to let all my friends know in our area here when the train (either the Red or Blue Unit) was going to pass through. Over the years (especially over the past 8 years or so because of the digital camera) I have gotten quite a few pictures of the trains passing through our area.

There are a lot of memorable moments that I have seeing the trains. However, the one that sticks out the most is when some of my friends asked if I wanted to go up and see the unloading of the elephants and animals back in 2015 when the Red Unit was coming to town with the all-new ‘Circus Xtreme’ tour. I accepted their invitation and I’m glad I did because that would be the last year the elephants would be coming to town. I also went to see the Circus with them and the show was amazing as always! Even though I didn’t get to come to see the shows every year, I always tried to see the train! The trains were a show in itself. The way you guys unload the train in one town, then packed it all back up, loaded it back into the train, and then traveled to the next town has always been interesting to me and you guys always did an excellent job with it!

What I’m probably looking forward to after the Circus is seeing how much the Circus has impacted the entertainment industry. Feld Entertainment owns many different shows such as ‘Disney On Ice’ and ‘Monster Jam’ and I saw on a YouTube video Kenneth Feld himself saying how much the Circus will live on in how these other shows operate. It’s amazing how much the entertainment industry as a whole can learn from the Circus.

I’ve always been interested in trains (I got that from my Dad and Grandpa) and I also enjoy working with lighting and sound equipment. There were many times I thought about joining the Circus to work on the stage lighting but that never worked out. However, I always looked up to those who lived and worked on and performed in the Circus and on the trains. I’ll never forgot all the wonderful memories I have of the Circus for as long as I live. Thank you for all the wonderful memories! May all your days be Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Days! - Darrel Moyer, Stage lighting, Decorative lighting, Sound tech, Railfan, Model train and Aviation enthusiast.

I was the veterinary technician on the Red unit for almost two years. I was part of the second year of Built to Amaze and the first year of Circus Xtreme. Some of my favorite memories from the circus include the big party where Red and Blue units got together. And watching the guys practice football for weeks to prepare for a showdown with Circus Vargas. They would get so into the practice and then later the game, that we were all sure we'd have to explain why some of our top acts wouldn't be performing in the show because of a football injury. I also started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes with some of the kids on the unit. Those kids never failed to make me laugh and I had so much fun teaching them after the shows each week.

Of course I have many, many memories with the animals. I'm so thankful for all the days I got to see elephants outside my office and know that they were so close. I think the camels were probably my favorite animal to snuggle though.

Overall I miss the incredibly unique world that is the circus. I miss the family, the closeness that brings both harmony and discord. I miss so many people and now, I think how I might never see them again. I miss watching the audience and seeing children thrilled by the show and by the elephants. I miss the magic and the feeling that anything is possible. The circus is so many things and it wasn't always sunshine and roses but it was always exciting and challenging and different. It was always life, bigger and more awesome than anyone could ever imagine.

There is truly something special about being able to say, all my days were circus days.
Thinking of all my circus family now and always. Sending much love. See you down the road. - Kizzi Roberts, Ringling Vet Tech, 2yrs

(photo courtesy Kizzi R.)

In ways I owe the circus my life...after school I ended up working in small theatres but as the recession set in they made cuts, mainly new hires first (me) then altogether closing down. I took a job in banking and I was good at it but it was only to be part time just until I could get another show job somewhere...anywhere. I applied all over too but banking started being my career as time went by. Honestly it took a tole on me and my personality changed, who I was changed. I didn't like who I was. I hated life. I applied and applied to jobs...everyone said I was qualified but that I needed something "fresh" on my resume since I hadn't worked professionally in a few years. So basically they didn't want to be my first job back in the industry. I was about to give up on a lot of levels when I got the call from Feld asking if I would do wardrobe for the circus?! But I hadn't applied in years...the call was the perfect timing and it saved me from my hole of depression. I will always owe this show my happiness. It gave me the update to my resume I needed and opened so many doors. I wasn't there long but always thought I'd get the chance to come back...I guess it's true what they say "you can't go back home." The circus will always have a special spot in my heart from childhood memories seeing the show to the time I worked for it, but I'll always be thankful for how it saved me. - Ashley, Wardrobe, Blue Unit

It's hard to choose favorite circus memories when even some of the bad memories become some of your favorite ones too...ironic how that happens. For me, at the top of all-time favorite memories would have to be the day I was on a hospital PR (This was back when we were donating $10,000 each week to children's hospitals to help with the cancer research the elephants were a part of). I received a text from Addy who was on elephant crew saying she really needed to talk to me and it was urgent. Addy and I became quite close our last year on RBBB. We would have girl date nights filled with margaritas and ocean waves...one time I almost got attacked by a sea lion...Addy has an amazing action shot of that particular moment!

I was still at the children's hospital upon receiving this urgent text and so I told her I would come to her once I got back to the arena. She told me to meet her at the elephant barn. This was also durning the time we had received the news the elephants would be removed from the shows. I figured she was having a really hard day and needed to talk. I arrived to the arena still in clown makeup...I texted her back and she said keep the makeup on and just get over there fast. So I rushed out of clown shoes and hurried over to where she was. As I approached the elephant barn I saw her standing in a patch of sand with Asia (one of the elephants) and I said hey what's wrong? She laughed and said "Nothing, we are just going to put you on an elephant to ride!" I about fainted from my heart exploding with such joy!! Once the announcement happened A LOT of people began asking for rides on the elephants and photos. I was lucky enough to get to be great friends with elephant crew and had a tiny part in Preshow where I got to pass a ball to Mable to dunk in a goal. I didn't want to stress any of them out and always respected their space and time with the girls, especially because at that point their time was fading fast.

There was however a condition upon me riding Asia: I had to try and mount her the circus way, which is where you put your foot on the elephant's leg and hold onto their ear, then they fling you up on their back...

I knew this wouldn't end well. There is a hilarious video, all of five seconds, where I failed the mount and hit the ground. Jimmy and Terri (handlers) both got me up quicker than a blink and then Asia laid down and I got to climb on top of her in all of my joy (and embarrassment!) from my previous fall. I was so excited I was laughing and crying at the same time. It was seriously one of the coolest experiences of my life, and it meant so much. I secretly wanted to ride one of the girls so bad and the fact that they thought of me and made that happen without me even asking was so special. Asia marched around the pen in about two circles. Feeling her shoulders moving under my body scared the crap out of me and I held on to her head dress for my life. She laid back down for me to jump off and I remember just crying and giving her a kiss on the head.

(photo courtesy Lindsey)

The day they left broke my heart. During the final performance when the curtain opened Addy ran from the side of the rubber and I met her half way instead of going to my choreographed spot. We hugged for what felt like a lifetime in only a few short seconds. Then I turned with tears and did my final style as they marched their last path from the floor to the semis. You can't trade the relationships you make in the circus for anything...among animals and friends...the mixed cultures...all that embodies the frustration and the magic. We all have a piece of it and hopefully will take that with us wherever the tracks lead us down the road. I think that's what I'll miss the most: being surrounded by so much diversity yet blessed with great community among such differences. For me...my plan after circus was to start working at a Planet Fitness and I've done just that. I want to work on my goals and be in an environment quite like the circus: people achieving what others see as impossible. I lost 65lbs before joining Ringling. It was very hard work and even after that I was still the biggest female performer. I was constantly approached in Preshow and Entr'act by women who told me I was an inspiration to them. That always made me feel really good. I had a fantastic 3 years on the road as a RBBB Clown...the southern belle of the circus is what I was known as! Which ironically became more of an oxymoron as time went on lol however, I'll keep those stories between clown alley and I ;) - Lindsey AnneMarie Merryfield, Clown

This is Jeff Boyce, my boyfriend Jameson's Dad, with Assan. He sent me this photo because his favorite circus moment was getting to meet Assan after a show. Her handler was describing what goes into caring for each elephant, and when he mentioned foot care, Assan raised her foot without being asked and showed it to Jeff. It was a pretty cool moment!

My name is Justino Hernandez, everybody knows me as Tino. I join RBBBC in December 2009 at Gold Unit. I came from Carson and Barnes Circus and I was taking care of elephants over there. From there I came to Red Unit to work with horses at the beginning and with camels until now. My favorite memories are about the elephants because I had the privilege to work with them and I love them also. I will miss very much the people that I was working with; specially my friends and co-workers at Gold Unit because (being a small group) everybody is more like a family. I made anyway very good friends in Red Unit and I will miss them a lot but sincerely, I will miss most the animals especially my buddy Cody (camel). I hope that in the future I could see him and the other animals I was working with and also my friends at the circus. My future - like other people also - is uncertain and unknown but, I trust in Our Lord and I know that something good is waiting for us. My best wishes to all the RBBBC family. All of you are in my prayers. HEALTH, LOVE, SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS ! GOD BLESS YOU!!! - Justino "Tino" Hernandez, Animal Crew, 8 years

The final mass was said today at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus XTREME.
Below is the closing prayer, written by Fr. Francis T Cancro that we all prayed together.

The Prayer for Down the Road
Bless with your holy light concession workers, floor crews, transportation crews and office workers and all who make the world of the circus a reality by their labor.
Bless those who manifested beauty through the use of their gifts and talents as they walk, run, jump and fly across the sky. Send your angels as their protection.
Bless those who move, who dance, who juggle and balance and who use trampolines, bikes and stilts.
Bless those who ride horse-back and camel-back, and who with great ease use these beautiful animals to perform amazing skills.
Bless ringmasters, floor and production mangers, those who make sound and light and fire, and all who created, funded, oversaw and have produced this circus.
Bless those performers who have brought laughter, especially clowns and comedic performers,
and bless windjammers, the music makers who have made amazing sounds here at every performance.
And bless those who have lent their sweat, their strength and their technical skill to make this circus an experience for the senses.

Bless train masters and porters, train crew and all who have assisted with bringing this show safely along the rails.
Bless those who manage props, who sew and fix, who oversee wardrobe and costume changes and who take the care to clean and press what is needed to bring joy to others.
Bless the pie car, the cooks and all those who provide the daily bread of people on the train and in the arena.
Bless animal trainers and animal crews and vet support staff and all who feed and care for your precious animal creations that this circus has had the privilege to care for and to display.

Bless all of us who are the circus, who love the circus and who sustain the big and small shows that grace our world.
Never let us cease to be companions on the journey and bring us together at least once more down the road.

Bless us now, and tomorrow and forever. Amen.

(photo courtesy Fr. Francis)


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 8th, 2017 10:21 am (UTC)
I am nearly at a loss for words to express my sorrow for you and your circus family. I am also saddened at the loss of yet another unique American treasure that has brought happiness and comfort to generations. Another nail is driven into America's coffin with every loss of our great institutions.

Please keep this blog active as I am reading it completely from the beginning. I thoroughly enjoy it and through your eyes I am living my own circus dream that sadly can never come true. If you ever write a book about your Ringling experiences I will be one of the first to buy a copy!

God Bless and thanks for your dedication and sacrifice over the years to bring us good wholesome entertainment.
May. 9th, 2017 03:12 am (UTC)
Re: Farewell!!!
Me too :/

Thank you for your kind words. I will definitely keep this blog up, and will also be copying it to WordPress because that's a more stable (popular) platform. I will continue posting every Sunday until the Blue unit closes, then after that we'll see what happens.

Thank you for reading and thank you for enjoying the circus while it was possible for you to do so!!
May. 9th, 2017 02:14 am (UTC)

I don't quite know what to say except I've loved your blog, and i wish you nothing but the best down the road. Thanks for sharing your experiences and stories. I always read your blog sitting at my desk of a 9-5 seeing a while new world!

May. 9th, 2017 03:21 am (UTC)
Ok first of all, I love your profile photo. \m/

Thank you. I am about to be right there with you on the 9-5 lifestyle haha. I'm glad you've enjoyed this blog, and I'll continue to post in it for a while yet so I hope you'll enjoy those posts for as long as they're interesting :)

Thank you for reading!
May. 10th, 2017 01:48 am (UTC)
Thank you for sharing a glimpse of your life with the circus. I took my parents (both in their 70s) when you guys came through Atlanta this year. It meant so much to my mom to get to see the show one last time, and it meant so much to me to see her so happy. I can't believe that my nephews will never get to experience the magic of Ringling Brothers. I wish you and all of the performers success and joy in your future endeavors.
- Liza
May. 10th, 2017 02:23 am (UTC)
Hi Liza!

Thank you for coming to the show. It's great that your mom was able to enjoy it one more time!

Yes, it's an awful shame. But there are still other great circuses out there, like the Shriners circus, Kelly Miller, Circus Vargas, and others. They may not be the same as Ringling but they're still very good shows.

Thank you again :)
May. 11th, 2017 03:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

Thank you for your blog that I admittedly just discovered.

It was late Saturday night in January, when I heard on a BBC radio broadcast that RB&BB would be closing. Surely this couldn’t be true. Sadly, it was. What amazed me was how upset I was, near tears.

I admit that I had not been to the circus in years. Since that time, I've driven about 1,000 miles to catch both productions. They were both magnificent (and yes, I was very impressed with the band!).

There is no one alive today that remembers a world without the RB&BB Circus. I can’t help that think that so many others, like me, attending their final shows after the announcement, have discovered, albeit too late, what they have been missing. A magnificent show, reasonably priced, with elements of Broadway, a great live band, athletic feats, animals.

I’ll continue to say a little prayer for that surprise revival of an unforgettable brand name. There’s an anniversary coming up (150th anyone?) and a relaunch would be perfect

Godspeed Megan and I look forward to exploring your wonderful blog.

May. 13th, 2017 03:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Thank you!
No worries, it's not exactly a popular blog!

Thank you. Wow, that's dedication, to travel all that way! I am glad that you had a good time, that it was worth it :)

Despite all the virtues of RBBB, running such a show in this day and age just got to be ridiculous. By the time I joined in 2012, the Felds were wrapping up litigation over animal treatment that had kept them in court for over a decade (just imagine how expensive that would have been). This past year, the cost of traveling by train west of the Mississippi went up 165% (HOLY CRAP) which is part of the reason we didn't do a year-long farewell tour that included the west coast. And these are just two of the excessive expenses that the Ringling brand has faced...there were plenty of others.

Anyway, thank you again!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )