Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years

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Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years

Unread postby Trainman2223 » Sun Jan 15, 2017 12:02 am

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/apnews ... li=BBnb7Kz

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/nationa ... -1.2946678

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ringling-br ... 146-years/
From the AP via MSN:

ELLENTON, Fla. — After 146 years, the curtain is coming down on "The Greatest Show on Earth." The owner of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus told The Associated Press that the show will close forever in May.

The iconic American spectacle was felled by a variety of factors, company executives say. Declining attendance combined with high operating costs, along with changing public tastes and prolonged battles with animal rights groups all contributed to its demise.

"There isn't any one thing," said Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment. "This has been a very difficult decision for me and for the entire family."

The company broke the news to circus employees Saturday night after shows in Orlando and Miami.

Ringling Bros. has two touring circuses this season and will perform 30 shows between now and May. Major stops include Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston and Brooklyn. The final shows will be in Providence, Rhode Island, on May 7 and in Uniondale, New York, at the Nassau County Coliseum on May 21.

The circus, with its exotic animals, flashy costumes and death-defying acrobats, has been a staple of entertainment in the United States since the mid-1800s. Phineas Taylor Barnum made a traveling spectacle of animals and human oddities popular, while the five Ringling brothers performed juggling acts and skits from their home base in Wisconsin. Eventually, they merged and the modern circus was born. The sprawling troupes traveled around America by train, wowing audiences with the sheer scale of entertainment and exotic animals.

By midcentury, the circus was routine, wholesome family entertainment. But as the 20th century went on, kids became less and less enthralled. Movies, television, video games and the internet captured young minds. The circus didn't have savvy product merchandising tie-ins or Saturday morning cartoons to shore up its image.

"The competitor in many ways is time," said Feld, adding that transporting the show by rail and other circus quirks — such as providing a traveling school for performers' children— are throwbacks to another era. "It's a different model that we can't see how it works in today's world to justify and maintain an affordable ticket price. So you've got all these things working against it."

The Feld family bought the Ringling circus in 1967. The show was just under 3 hours then. Today, the show is 2 hours and 7 minutes, with the longest segment — a tiger act — clocking in at 12 minutes.

"Try getting a 3- or 4-year-old today to sit for 12 minutes," he said.

Feld and his daughter Juliette Feld, who is the company's chief operating officer, acknowledged another reality that led to the closing, and it was the one thing that initially drew millions to the show: the animals. Ringling has been targeted by activists who say forcing animals to perform is cruel and unnecessary.

In May of 2016, after a long and costly legal battle, the company removed the elephants from the shows and sent the animals to live on a conservation farm in Central Florida. The animals had been the symbol of the circus since Barnum brought an Asian elephant named Jumbo to America in 1882. In 2014, Feld Entertainment won $25.2 million in settlements from groups including the Humane Society of the United States, ending a 14-year fight over allegations that circus employees mistreated elephants.

By the time the elephants were removed, public opinion had shifted somewhat. Los Angeles prohibited the use of bull-hooks by elephant trainers and handlers, as did Oakland, California. The city of Asheville, North Carolina nixed wild or exotic animals from performing in the municipally owned, 7,600-seat U.S. Cellular Center.

Attendance has been dropping for 10 years, said Juliette Feld, but when the elephants left, there was a "dramatic drop" in ticket sales. Paradoxically, while many said they didn't want big animals to perform in circuses, many others refused to attend a circus without them.

"We know now that one of the major reasons people came to Ringling Bros. was getting to see elephants," she said. "We stand by that decision. We know it was the right decision. This was what audiences wanted to see and it definitely played a major role."

The Felds say their existing animals — lions, tigers, camels, donkeys, alpacas, kangaroos and llamas — will go to suitable homes. Juliette Feld says the company will continue operating the Center for Elephant Conservation.

Some 500 people perform and work on both touring shows. A handful will be placed in positions with the company's other, profitable shows — it owns Monster Jam, Disney on Ice and Marvel Live, among other things — but most will be out of a job. Juliette Feld said the company will help employees with job placement and resumes. In some cases where a circus employee lives on the tour rail car (the circus travels by train), the company will also help with housing relocation.

Kenneth Feld became visibly emotional while discussing the decision with a reporter. He said over the next four months, fans will be able to say goodbye at the remaining shows.

In recent years, Ringling Bros. tried to remain relevant, hiring its first African American ringmaster, then its first female ringmaster, and also launching an interactive app. It added elements from its other, popular shows, such as motorbike daredevils and ice skaters. But it seemingly was no match for Pokemon Go and a generation of kids who desire familiar brands and YouTube celebrities.

"We tried all these different things to see what would work, and supported it with a lot of funding as well, and we weren't successful in finding the solution," said Kenneth Feld.
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Re: Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years

Unread postby Ypsi » Sun Jan 15, 2017 2:28 am

Today was a sadly historic day as Ringling Bros. announced they would be closing down in May of 2017. This means no more circus trains, and no more circus. 146 years of entertainment and they have been forced out of business. Closest stop to Michigan in Cincinatti this spring, and after that it's gone. The circus train was one that always turned heads when it passed. I'm glad I took my time to drive 400+ miles in a day to see and chase it, or catch them at 2:45am in Royal Oak, because none of that will be possible anymore.

Read the official announcement here: https://www.ringling.com

Or google it to find a lot of articles from various news out lets.

**My thoughts from a post I made before seeing this one
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Re: Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years

Unread postby Super Chief » Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:21 am

Well I had caught every one of them thru either Elkhart or Three Rivers in the past 5 years to Van Andel arena and saw it load in Palmetto Fla. Met Ypsi in Elkhart on one. A sad day indeed. Lots of rail equipment will probably be sold off now after May.
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Re: Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years

Unread postby Super Chief » Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:28 am

Forgot to that I saw it in Milwaukee when the CNW F units brought it down from Baraboo in the 60s. Big parade thru downtown Milwaukee with the elephants and the old circus carriages brightly painted. Ah only memories now.
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Re: Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years

Unread postby hoborich » Sun Jan 15, 2017 10:08 pm

Saw the circus for the first time in the late 40s. My dad took me and my brother to the circus at the State Fair grounds in Detroit. Took my kids to the circus too.
They can sugar coat it all they want to. But political correctness killed the circus. Constant attacks and boycotts and protests by PETA. Demands for black ringmasters, female ringmasters, etc. Sad! Todays kids will grow up never seeing or knowing a circus. "Dad, what's a circus"? :cry:
"Ask your doctor if medical advice from a TV commercial is right for you".
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Re: Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years

Unread postby Robertrains » Wed Jan 18, 2017 1:03 am

:evil: This makes me so mad!!!! :evil: I have been trying to see this train going for years! Now (2017) I have a ride to see it this November! Just my luck─it won't come back again!!!!

:evil: :evil: P.E.T.A. is the "Reason" for its "Demise!!!!"
"CIRCUS CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!" :evil:
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Re: Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years

Unread postby C&O6084 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:13 pm

Is Strates still in business? If so, last I saw them, they were still using ex-C&O 86' TOFC flats, still in blue, when I saw them last in Orlando. They picked up the whole series when C&O decided to go with TTX equipment.
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Re: Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years

Unread postby Robertrains » Thu Feb 09, 2017 8:06 am

C&O6084 wrote:Is Strates still in business? If so, last I saw them, they were still using ex-C&O 86' TOFC flats, still in blue, when I saw them last in Orlando. They picked up the whole series when C&O decided to go with TTX equipment.

Yes, the Strates Sho™ws INC. still operates!!!! It's the only "Carnival Train" around!!!! Here's their "History"─along with info on the rail cars:
http://www.stratescarnivalcompany.com/history

Heritageunits.com lists this train, though not exactly a "Circus Train" : https://heritageunits.com/Locomotive/Detail/JESX :mrgreen:
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Re: Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years

Unread postby Robertrains » Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:30 pm

OK, I am going down to Cincinnati, Ohio this weekend to photograph the "Circus Train!!!!" I finally will get it!!!! No more "Circus Crap!!!!" :mrgreen:
However, it won't be the same without the "SMELLEPHANTS" going by!!!! :(
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Re: Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years

Unread postby cbtrower » Thu Mar 23, 2017 7:40 am

Did we ever find out the fate of some or all of the cars?
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Re: Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years

Unread postby Robertrains » Sat Mar 25, 2017 12:12 pm

cbtrower wrote:Did we ever find out the fate of some or all of the cars?

Nobody seems to know! They aren't ready for passengers (sleeping quarters for "Clowns"), but I am hopeful that museums will take them and/or "Private trains!!!!" We will have to wait and see! Last Sunday/Monday I went with "Railfan Gary" to chase the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey® "Circus Train!!!!" It was out of Cincinnati, OH! We came back on Tuesday and saw lots of trains!
:mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
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Re: Ringling Bros. circus to close after 146 years

Unread postby GreatLakesRailfan » Sun Mar 26, 2017 9:08 am

Robertrains wrote:
cbtrower wrote:Did we ever find out the fate of some or all of the cars?

Nobody seems to know! They aren't ready for passengers (sleeping quarters for "Clowns"), but I am hopeful that museums will take them and/or "Private trains!!!!" We will have to wait and see! Last Sunday/Monday I went with "Railfan Gary" to chase the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey® "Circus Train!!!!" It was out of Cincinnati, OH! We came back on Tuesday and saw lots of trains!
:mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:



From the sound of things, the cars are priced too high for most museums. When you add in rumored deferred maintenance and the need to completely overhaul these cars for other uses, it's looking less and less likely that many (or any) of the cars will wind up in a museum.
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