This article was originally published on Medium.
When I was five or six, my mom and I were driving through Chicago. It was a hot day, summer. We were in traffic, a bottleneck on Madison.
I remember burning my forearm against the window glass.
“Look!” said my mom, cutting through the silence.
I looked up. An elephant was a car length ahead, plodding across the downtown intersection. Behind it was a caravan of clowns and trainers and animals. There was a kangaroo.
An elephant was a car length ahead, plodding across the downtown intersection.
“Must be a show,” said my mom.
Watching the parade was magnificent. I was suddenly very exciting.
“Must be,” I said, smiling.
Ringling Bros. has been making people smile for 146 year. But that’s coming to an end …
The circus is going out of business.
“There isn’t any one thing,” said Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, which owns the soon-to-be defunct circus. “This has been a very difficult decision for me and for the entire family.”
“There isn’t any one thing …”
Except there is: Time.
For centuries, acrobats and clowns, elephants and fire eaters were superb at capturing and keeping an audience’s attention. But not anymore.
When the Feld family bought Ringling Bros. in 1967, performances lasted nearly 3 hours. Since then, the shows have been considerably shortened, tightened, adjusted for a “modern” audience. An audience with options. When it comes to entertainment, we’re all stretched thin.
When it comes to entertainment, we’re all stretched thin.
The ticket sales just aren’t there.
YouTube won. SnapChat won. HBO won. Time won. It always does.
I won’t miss going to the circus.
As a kid, I rarely went. As an adult, the elephants made me sad.
But I will miss knowing that it exists. That it’s out there in a relevant way.
A way that entertains and inspires people. A way that gives people something to look forward to.
The final Ringling Bros. show will take place in May, 2017.