Backstage With Elephants, Lions & Tigers & Clowns


Special Memories From Years Gone By


We were backstage, my two young sons and myself, at the...

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.



It was many years ago. My youngest two sons (I have four) were eleven and eight years of age when I brought them backstage (a backstage like no other) at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus performing at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Sadly, in May of this year the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus will come to its end. No movie, no special TV production, no staged extravaganza will ever be the equal of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Soon it will become just a memory. Let me quote from the Wizard of Oz ... Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my!




They were all there, waiting to parade out into the amphitheater:



The clowns


The elephants

Of course, the lions and tigers were in their cages...



 The tigers (Did you guess?)    


How did my two sons and myself manage a visit backstage at the circus?


It all began with a children’s musical play that I had written and produced called

SUPER-U. It was a fantasy musical with the actors wearing wonderful, out-of-this-world costumes. As I remember it was representatives from the Police Athletic League that invited my cast to march in a celebrity filled, fund-raising parade (for the Police Athletic League) at the circus. That invitation to be part of the parade was one that I gladly accepted.


And so I was also invited, along with my sons, to visit backstage at the circus. My family had gone to the circus in Madison Square Garden a number of times over the years. That meant we sat in the amphitheater, viewing from a distance. This time, backstage, we found ourselves together with the clowns, acrobats and elephants all within touching distance. It was as if we were part of the circus. What a great memory for my two sons and myself.




Perhaps a song from Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A Changn’, best explains the demise of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Pressure from animal rights groups ended the performances of the elephants. I suppose that also meant that other animals might be affected. Mainly, they are closing because the cost of operating was more than the owners could afford.


The allure of the circus just could not compete with all the mind-boggling entertainment that is out there. Just the same, the magic of the circus was there, backstage for my two sons and for me.


Bob Flicker

 © robert 2014