Ringling Circus Farewell Tour: Parents reminisce, make new memories with their kids

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – They sat on their parents’ shoulders with wide eyes and curious expressions.  Their faces lit up with anticipation as they watched the room filled with the brightly-colored world of the circus. For children, opening night of “The Greatest Show on Earth” was magical.

From the eyes of a child, the circus is “fantasy coming to life,” said one mother.

Wednesday night ushered in the first of the last shows for the circus in Tampa.

After the announcement from Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus that the show will be ending after a 146-year run, hundreds of families descended upon Amalie Arena to enjoy one of the final shows in Tampa Bay.

For some, saying goodbye to the circus was like saying goodbye to family.

“I’ve been going to Barnum and Bailey since I was a little girl, so I’m really sad today,” said Maria Grosnevor, who saw her first show at 7-years-old.

She wanted her children to have the same experience she did. She brought her three little boys to see opening night.

“It’s a very emotional day for us.  They’re not gonna be able to do this anymore, you know,” she said.

Many moms and dads said that being there was all about reliving precious memories from their own childhood, in addition to making special, new memories with their children.

“I remember coming when I was a little girl,” said Holly Dillon.  “So it really means a lot to bring my children, it’s really fun and a great opportunity because they’re closing up shop.”

Holly and Derek Dillion carried their two daughters on their shoulders so their little girls could have the best view possible.

“I thought, for them,  it would be so special, you know, one of the last of the greatest shows on earth, really,” said Derek Dillon. “Really means a lot.”

The shows will run through Sunday at Amalie Arena.  Arena officials said Tuesday that extra seats were made available to accommodate demand.

The final circus shows nationwide will be held May 21st in New York.

“It’s really hard for everyone, especially with everything changing nowadays,” said Maria Grosvenor.  “All the things going on. It’s little things like this you want to hold onto. But, life is changing, you want to go with the flow.”

Feld Entertainment released the following information Wednesday afternoon:

“Ticketholders can purchase an upgrade and go backstage with a VIP Behind the Scenes Tour of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. The backstage experience includes an insider look at props and wardrobe, an up close and personal encounter with the animals and a chance to meet stars from the show. Fans will also have an opportunity to take pictures and learn educational fun facts. To take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime experience, just log on to ringlingbros.expapp.com from your iPhone or Android smartphone, and provide your name, e-mail and phone number to become a VIP circus insider.”

Tickets for all events are on sale now at the ticket office at AMALIE Arena, Ticketmaster outlets and at Ticketmaster.com.

Order tickets by phone by calling 800.745.3000. Advanced parking passes are available at Ticketmaster.com or the ticket office. Visit amaliearena.com or call 813.301.2500 for more information.

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