The final curtain call for the Ringling Bros. circusBy Elliot Bullman
The circus billed as "The Greatest Show on Earth" has come to an end after 146 years.
With ticket sales down and operating costs up, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus held its final performance Sunday in Uniondale, New York, after 146 years.
Circus executives said the wild animals, acrobats, clowns and other circus acts that had entertained audiences for over a century could not withstand the 21st century competition of iPhones, the internet and video games.
In January, Feld Entertainment, Ringling's parent company, announced the unthinkable - the circus would close, eight months after the company, at the urging of animal rights activists, removed elephants from performances. The final circus featured aerialists, contortionists, clowns, motorcycle stunts, ice skaters, and dancing dogs.
Sunday night the circus received a standing ovation, prompting ringmaster Jonathan Lee Iverson to say, "I thought the circus was antiquated? You mean you love the circus?" He led the circus performers, crew and audience through an emotional rendition of Auld Lang Syne.
"We all have to embrace change”, said Kenneth Feld of Ringling's parent company, Feld Entertainment,"but there is a love for the circus that will never die."
Several former performers gathered before the final show to share their memories, including a clown named David Gregg, who said, "It's 146 years of tradition, older than American baseball. This was one of the last nomadic tribes running around the country."
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