The Greatest Show On Earth

By Dr Art Lynch

The Circus, reserved for only the Greatest Show on Earth, started in the spring of 1871 and officially dies today with the final show.

I have my own thoughts and memories, as do so many people around the world.

When I was a kid the Circus was magic, as was the parade of circus wagons every year in Milwaukee. A neighbor or my Lynch cousins build a full replica of the three ring circus flea size (I never saw and flees) all hand painted and assembled.

Then as an adult I met Nevada SAG and now SAG-AFTRA member Earl Chaney, at one time the lead clown and billboard face of The Circus. His face is famous as the copyrighted pattern was purchased by McDonald's to be Ronald McDonald. Earl rode the rails, lived circus, has two unpublished books on circus life (one he calls the true story of the "Peyton Place that was life on the circus train. He has a huge collection of circus books, posters and props. Earl himself is a magician as well as a clown (long time Instructor at Clown College).

I also paid premium one year for my daughter and grandkids to sit in the front rows, get special attention from the clowns and even the master and ride the circus train in front of a packed Thomas&Mac Arena.

The show as we know it today began in 1917, with European performers flooding into the US fleeing war and prejudice.
146 years since PT Barnum's Circus of Freaks became the circus we know today and 100 years since the birth of the Greatest Show on Earth.

Disney has pulled the plug on the show, killed off for high cost, the loss of audience when elephants were eliminated from the show, and a generation of video consumers who are no longer amazed by well rehearsed acrobats and circus "stunts" (actually talents, skills and there has always been risks).

A part of my life and of billions around the world, is now gone.

Yes, I am sad.

And a bit upset with those who said that circus animals are all mistreated (Earl assures me and interviews I did as a reporter reinforce this) and clowns are evil (Stephen King can go to "H_E_double hocky stick).
And I am more than a little upset with Disney.

It's a American institution, an world wide art form, a part of childhood that these groups have killed off, as of tonight.
This is for you Earl (as I raise a glass in proud salute).

Art Lynch