I dithered around all morning and decided that I was still enough of a big girl to go see Ringling Brothers Circus at the Sprint Center in downtown KCMO by myself, as Keith was going to the Royals with his daughter and her little family. Oddly enough, while I love the TBones, I don't like going to Kaufman stadium. I convinced myself that despite 30 years working downtown in the theaters, I was not able to go over alone. Then, after looking at tickets and telling myself all the reasons why I should NOT go, I went.
I should tell you that my "vacations" from work always involved the circus, for 25 years. I would save my pennies (literally) all year long and buy tickets to each show when not working, so I could see it from every angle. The shows I did work I did not mind seeing over and over, and got to know some circus people well. (in the old days).
We had not gone to Ringling for the last five years, though... and yes, I know they are controversial because of treatment of some of the elephants. I don't know enough about it to comment on it, but am going to ask some friends and see if I can get an answer. I no longer know anyone on any of the Ringling shows to ask, but I DO know that I was around it a lot in the old days, and that kind of treatment of show stock was not tolerated. So, having said that, I will also comment that there are only SIX "bulls", or elephants (all circus elephants are called "bulls", even though they are mostly female). Six, on Ringling... it was absolutely mind-blowing for me. There were two rings of performing horses, including large paints and what appeared to be Belgians, with their manes fancily roached, so that they almost looked like huge Fiords or Halflingers. Then the smaller ring was minis, different shades of palomino and a palomino overo. These were the only animals in the show, besides the big cats (tigers). No camels, no llamas, no zebras lead around in the specs. A different show.
I almost drove past the darn thing, I was concentrating on traffic so much. How could I have missed it? We had never been there, though.
Inside was same-old, same-old with Sells Floto concession stands everywhere. Sells Floto is the concession arm of Ringling, and was actually a circus what was brought under the combined shows in the 30's. (Circus Fans reading this, correct me if I'm wrong)
Down on the floor of the arena, the "Three Ring Experience" was taking place. Two of the liberty horses were brought out for the parents and kids to see. I was so glad to see that, despite numbering differences, the Sprint Center is not that far different from good old Kemper, which is now little used, but where I worked for 16 years at night and on weekends.
However, the balconey is MUCH higher than Kemper's! I was glad I had bought a ticket for the downstairs.
Now all the "rings' have been put away, and the prop crew is setting for the opening number. Here a word about rings. The only ring is the center ring. For the liberty mini-horses, a blow-up ring was rolled out, and then rolled back up. I never saw a ring at the ring three end, I was on the ring one end. So there is no "ring crew" for each ring anymore, but a prop crew who wears black and floats around in between numbers. There did not seem to be tons of rigging, either.
Here comes our beautiful flag, and ringmaster Brian Scott Thomas sang a beauiful version of our anthem.
And the bulls in the opening number... that's Stas and Vas, the two Russian comics, who were featured throughout the show, on the left. They were very good.
It turns out that from reading the program, I see there was a zebra liberty act that did not perform, and also, a ring of white liberty horses, Arabian-type. My guess is they are either out due to injury, or we had a John Robinson show at the second (3 PM) show, cut short because of the three-show day.
(John Robinson regularly cut his shows short!)
The Fernandez Brothers on the Wheels of Death. They were right in front of me. The younger man on the left must have blessed himself fifteen times while the arena was still dark, blessing the wheel as well. He performed particularly scary stunts. I could see him praying as he waited.
If you biggify, you can see the Belgians on the right in the center ring.
There was a wonderful high wire act, which I very much enjoyed.
Okay, let me say here that I have been sitting here reading PETA's condemnation of Ringling while these pictures have been loading. I don't know if they present the whole picture. I have been around those bulls... and many more of them... in the old days, and I did not see anything but "smacking" with the bullhook when there was a recalcitrant elephant. I'm not going to get into a protracted discussion of whether or not animals should be performing for people... but I can tell you that the ONLY outright cruelty I have seen personally was 30 years ago, when my sons came to get me to stop a trainer who was hitting his apes behind a curtain. It WAS outright cruelty, and the man saw that we could see him and stopped. Yes, I remember who he was. I could never watch his act ever again, and he came through here regularly. This was not on the Ringling show, by the way, but a circus presented under the auspices of the Police Benevolent Association for many years.
When the bulls perform, the show is almost over.
And then, it's finished. The houselights go up, and the prop crew gets busy setting the stage for the 7 PM show. I took a few last pictures, went out to the car, and slowly made my way through downtown. How happy I was to get home and see our babies.
Especially this one:
I've just heard from Keith, and they saw a great game at Royal's stadium, and he is in the parking lot, slowly making his way out. I'll expect him in another hour-hour and a half.... and will be glad to have him home safely.
Tomorrow after church I'll need to run Nathan home to Garnett. I have managed to pull something in my back, so I'm dreading the drive for once, so wish me luck!