Farewell To The “Greatest Show On Earth”

Grapevine by Rosalyn Queen Alonso

If we live long enough, we will be witnesses to many new beginnings and to many endings.  This past week it seems that the ending of the circus, as we know it, is over. The news advised us that the last performance of the “Greatest Show on Earth” 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 it 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 be held in the Carmichael Auditorium. I think that the circus which came to Clarksburg arrived 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, of 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; 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 immediately found our seats and watched in awe as the performers got ready for the performance. We never interacted with the performers; for some odd reason it seemed that our parents forbid us. Probably the first thing we saw was clowns running around or riding a unicycle or an old jalopy and doing all kinds of tricks to make the audience laugh.  I remember them throwing a bucket toward us and we thought we were going to get wet, but all that came out was confetti. Next, the ringmaster came out and announced the beginning of the performances.  This was probably the first time that I saw an elephant, but I thought they were so pretty with the beautiful girls riding on them.  There were always horses performing 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 was the aerial and trapeze artists.  The lights went down and a spotlight went high up into 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 played as the artists performed and headed to the most dangerous part of their act; I do not know if it was taped music or if they had a little band with them.

Sometimes the circus was referred to as a three ring circus and this simply meant that there would be three rings inside the tent with different performances going on in each of them at the same time.

When the end came, all the performers and animals came into the ring and paraded round 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 Cirque du Soleil.  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 the opportunity to enjoy this as much as I did.  It really was our first introduction to the big animals which were featured.

Now that summer is here you will be planning a vacation and I hope you will enjoy it and be safe.  Watch out for the safety of the many 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 communities.  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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