The Grapevine: The End of an Era; Saying Goodbye to the Greatest Show on Earth

By Rosalyn Queen Alonso on June 01, 2017 from The Grapevine via

If we live long enough, we will be witnesses to many new beginnings and to many endings.  This past week it seems that the circus as we know it is over.  By that I mean that the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus has taken down the big tent and closed its doors.
The news advised us that the last performance of the circus was held on Saturday evening.  As I gave this some thought it brought back a lot of memories of my attendance at the circus while it was visiting Clarksburg
If my memory serves me right, we always had the circus in the spring. For some reason, I attach the name Shrine to the circus.  I do not know if that’s because the local circus was sponsored by the Shriners, maybe as a fundraiser, or if that was just a part of its name.  It seemed that we always purchased tickets through our school. 
The circus would be held at Norwood Park or sometimes it would beheld in the Carmichael Auditorium. I think that the circus that came to Clarksburg, came in big trucks and I vaguely remember that once or twice they had a parade down Main Street. When the circus was held at the park, they pitched a huge tent and or course at the auditorium, it was indoors. Sometimes when it was at the park, we would go to the top of the hill between East View and Norwood and watch the tent go up. It seemed to be the biggest thing I had ever seen and those men constructing it seemed to know just exactly what they were doing and it went up in no time.  Sometimes we went to the afternoon performance but it was more exciting to go to the evening performance.
On the day, we went to the park, we found our seats immediately and watched in awe as the performers got ready for the performance. We never interacted with the performers and for some reason it seems that our parents forbid us to for some odd reason. Probably the first thing we saw were clowns running around or riding a unicycle or an old jalopy and doing all kinds of tricks to make the audience laugh.  You remember throwing the bucket toward you and we thought we were going to get wet and all that came out was confetti. Next the ringmaster came out and announced the beginning of the performances.  This is probably the first time that I saw an elephant, but I thought they were so pretty with the pretty girls riding on them.  There were always horses doing pretty acts as well as dogs. I think I remember lions jumping through a hoop of fire, but other than that I do not think there were any other animals there.
One of the highlights of the show were the aerial and trapeze artists.  The lights went down, and a spotlight went high in the tent to showcase them.  Everyone sat on the edge of their seat as the performers walked across the wires, rode bicycles and formed pyramids. I remember the exciting music that provided excitement as the artists performed and headed to the most exciting and most dangerous act for the audience.  I do not know if it was taped music or if they had a little band with them.
Sometime the circus was referred to as a three-ring circus and this meant that there would be three rings inside the tent with different performances going on at the same time.
When the end came, all the performers and animals came into the ring and paraded around the tent to the applause of the audience.  Every little girl left the tent that night dreaming of running away with the circus to become a trapeze artist.
Something that has replaced the original circus is Cir cue Du Sole.  I have attended this several times in Florida and although the performers are excellent on the wires, there are no animals and so a part of the original circus is lost. 
I bid a fond farewell to the circus and cherish the many memories I have.  I only wish our younger generation would have this opportunity to enjoy this as much as I did.  It was our first introduction to the big animals that were featured there.
Now that summer is here you will be planning a vacation and I hope you will enjoy it and be safe.  Watch for the safety of the young children who will be out playing or traveling back and forth to the pools.
On Friday, June 2, the PWA will present its Women of Distinction luncheon and there will be ten great area women recognized for their contributions to our area.  The theme is Celebrate America with an Americana menu planned. To make reservations call 304 624 6881.  The cost of the luncheon is $10.00.  Help us honor these individuals who give unselfishly of their time and talents to make a difference in our area.
Keep in touch with me and until next week "Now You Have Heard It Through the Grapevine."

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