The Greatest Show on Earth



“Will there be trapeze?”


“Tigers and elephants?”


“High wire?”

“Sure will.”

Daughter sat back, satisfied.

I knew for sure there would be a high wire act at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Fully Charged circus because Husband and I had checked the web site the night before. Not wanting to disappoint her as I did when I tried a lesser, much lesser show (let’s not even call it a circus), this time I hoped the greatest show on earth would exceed her expectations.

We picked Son up early from Cub Scouts and drove to the XL Center in Hartford at 4 p.m. to miss traffic and catch the pre-show when the doors opened at 6 o’clock. We arrived by 5:15 and parking was easy – there are several lots around the arena plus a garage across the street and we chose an outdoor lot to miss traffic on the way out. There’s also a handy sports bar/restaurant, Coach’s, with a children’s menu for dinner before the show (though there is so much going on inside the doors, I’d head straight to the XL Center if you arrive anytime near 6).

By 6:15 we were in the doors, the kids’ eyes popping at displays of cotton candy, snow cones in clown or tiger cups, pink twirling light up wands, circus toys, toys, and more toys! Later, we said.

First we headed to our section and down to the pre-show. On the show floor, the three rings featured various acts: a beautifully costumed performer showing dance moves, clowns, and Asia, the elephant, painting (yes, painting!) We stood up close and watched her lift a paint brush with her trunk and color the canvas with multiple colors.

But that was merely an appetizer. The main course was indeed better than we could have imagined. From the moment the Ringmaster opened the show, we were mesmerized by this gorgeous and exciting performance. Where do I start? With the parade of nine elephants and all the colorful acts that open the show to live music and a peppy score? Or the exquisite costumes, each sparkling and colorful on a troupe of beautiful performers?

I’ll give you the highlights and encourage you to visit the show in Hartford this weekend (check out the discount offered here).

The nine elephants are a stunning sight. Animal trainer, Tabayara, is the star of the show as he commands each set of animals in amazing feats. In addition to the elephants, there are three rings of horses, dancing simultaneously, and after intermission: twelve tigers (twelve!) inside a large net with him doing exactly what he asks of them – including a kiss!

The strong men are ferocious and funny and the acrobats top it all off with wonder. What about basketball on bouncing stilts? And dare I not mention the human fuse? I’ll let you discover that one.

But the highlight for us, I must say, was the high wire act.

Daughter has been talking about the high wire for months and as luck would have it, we were eye level with the five performers who climbed up to the taught wire and had us holding our breath as they somersaulted, jumped rope, stood on each other’s shoulders and bicycled back and forth. When I looked over at Daughter, she had her hands on both cheeks, staring in wonder at the feats unfolding before her eyes. I knew then that Ringling Bros. had delivered even more than I’d hoped it would.

As we left the center, our thrill meter satisfied for a good stretch, Daughter turned to me and said, “Mommy, that is the greatest show on earth.”Yes, it was.




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