STATE ROAD — One hundred and sixty-five students from Bridges Academy attended one of the final performances of an honored American tradition at the Greensboro Coliseum on Feb. 9. This spring “the Greatest Show on Earth” will come to an end after 146 years.
In 1919, two separate shows combined to form the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. This travelling event became known as the “Greatest Show on Earth.”
Traditionally a circus is a collection of performances involving acrobats, clowns and animals. These acts were carried out under a big tent.
Over time, these traditions have had to adapt to more modern ideas. Tents have been replaced by buildings, some animal acts have been removed and the ringmaster no longer has to be a man.
Bridges students were amazed by the acrobats on the tight-rope, rings and wheel of steel. They also were impressed with the skills of the trainers of the tigers, dogs and camels.
The students had the opportunity to see one of the performances directed by the first female ringmaster in the history of this circus. Her name is Kristen Michelle Wilson.
Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus has faced many challenges in recent times. Animal rights activists have challenged this group’s right to make use of animal acts and have forced changes on the circus such as the removal of the elephants.
Declining ticket sales and high operating costs have forced the owners of “the Greatest Show” to close their operation on May 21. Animals will likely be relocated to zoos and conservation centers.
The faculty and staff at Bridges Academy saw the Greensboro show as an excellent educational opportunity for students to witness a great American tradition. The students and staff were not disappointed.