The following content is created in consultation with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC New York's editorial staff. To learn more about Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents Out Of This World®, visit Ringling.com.
When it comes to classic family entertainment, you can’t get much more iconic than the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® circus. Talk to most Americans and they’ll have a story to share about the first time they marveled at tigers, laughed at the antics of clowns, or gasped in awe at the gravity-defying stunts of a trapeze act.
And nowhere is that more true than in New York. That’s because since 1871, when P.T. Barnum’s Great Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Hippodrome debuted in Brooklyn, New York City has had a love affair with The Greatest Show On Earth®. Consider the numbers: in the past 49 years, Ringling Bros. has entertained over 35 million people during 4,300 performances right here in the New York metro area.
That’s why the iconic circus company is ending its acclaimed 146-year run at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY from May 12-21. Titled Out Of This World, this final production is Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's boldest ever, featuring state-of-the-art visual effects, a seamless flow of breathtaking, never-before-seen performances and — for the first time ever — a character-driven storyline.
But for many fans, the circus is more than just a show. Beyond the amazing performers and thrilling acts, many fans recall the entire experience—from the smell of the popcorn and cotton candy to the treasured toys they received and cherished for years. So, as we close in on the final Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey performances, we invited New Yorkers to share their favorite Ringling Bros. memories. Some dreamed of running away with the circus. Others actually acted on it, even if only for a brief moment in their lives. But one thing they all have in common is that Ringling Bros. sparked their imaginations and left a lasting impression that has stayed with them their entire lives.
“Oh, how I loved the circus. As a child, my parents took me every year to see the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. I loved the animals, sideshow, people getting shot out of cannons, the barker and the clowns. Those shows provided me with great memories of my family taking me to the circus. It certainly is the end of an era.”
— Maryann Palumbo, Brooklyn, NY
“When I took my daughter for her first circus, she was awestruck; couldn’t take her eyes off the show, laughing at the tigers and upset when it was over.”
— Adina Goriva, Staten Island, NY
“I remember going as a child; that was over 60 years ago. It was the most thrilling show ever! My parents bought me a tiny turtle in a box as a souvenir. We brought it home and put it into a little terrarium. I brought my children and my grandchildren.”
— Elaine Abbot Hutchins, Long Island, NY
“As a kid, I went with my dad, my uncle, my cousin and my little sister. My cousin and I both got monkey puppets on a stick and my sister got a doll dressed in pink. I remember those toys like it was yesterday, but it was 45 years ago! I remember having one of the best times of my life. Thank you for a wonderful memory!”
— Tammy Riemenschnitter, Phillipsburg, NJ
“I just remember thinking it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen when I saw it as a child.”
— John Cross, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
“My Hungarian-born mother, Ildiko Breyer, was in the Blue Show. She was part of the Three Breyers, a solitary trapeze act, and Ringling brought her to America from Romania. She immigrated and married my American father, Jay Trien, who was introduced to her through Ringling’s great photographer, Jerry Yulsman, and his wife Anita (a performer in the Red Show) in 1973. In 1978, I came along.
Thank you Ringling Bros., Irvin Feld, Kenneth Feld and all the trainers, performers, animals and crew. Without you, I wouldn’t be here.
— Ooana Trien, Hell’s Kitchen
“My daughter loved the dogs, the big cats, the motorcycles, the clowns...everything, now that I look back. She threw a monumental tantrum when I told her it was time to leave, which is the highest praise you can get from a toddler.”
— Ryan Weyls, Brooklyn
Remember, it’s not too late to give your children memories they’ll treasure for a lifetime. Purchase your tickets here and bring the whole family to see Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Presents Out Of This World before the final curtain closes on May 21.