Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Greatest Show on Earth with Friends

We moved on to North Fort Myers for a week of exploring and a visit from Mike and Sherri.  We love sharing our RV lifestyle with friends and having the opportunity to tour new things with them.  We drove to Sarasota to visit  The John & Mable Ringling Museum.  Sarasota was the winter home of the circus and the Ringlings built a beautiful house here.  The site is now a museum of circus memorabilia and a art museum housing the works they collected.
This sure sums it up.  You have to love the circus.
This mural of famous circus performers is in the entrance of the Tibbals Learning Center, a building dedicated to the history of the circus through the years.
Here are Sherri and Mike "clowning" around.
I got into the clown car and Nanc did a bit of bareback riding.  It was great being there when there were no kids giving us competition getting to these fun, interactive exhibits.
A highlight for me was the Howard Bros. Circus Model, the world's largest miniature circus.  The model, which includes eight tents and 42,000 objects that cover 3,800 square feet, was created by Howard Tibbals. 
A few pictures of the back lot.  There was everything from the motor pool, to dressing rooms, to dining halls.  In those days the circus often stayed in town for only one day and everything was set up and torn down each day.  The kitchen, which was the first thing set up as they fed 1,100 people three meals a day, was torn down and moved to the next town before the performance was over.  
The midway with the ticket wagons and all the sideshows.
Since there were few zoos that people could get to, the menagerie of all the animals was a major draw.  When the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey combined in 1919 the circus train had 100 railroad cars.
And under the big top was the three rings of performers.  The last performance of the Greatest Show on Earth under the big top was in Pittsburgh, PA in 1956.  Since then the big circus is held in a large arena, but there are still smaller circuses that perform under the tent.   
This sure shows why the circus is exciting with so many things happening all at once.  This reminded Nanc and I of the first year I taught and we took my class on a field trip to see the circus.  The look on all the kids faces was absolutely priceless. 
Part of the display of ad posters that the advance teams would plaster all over town in the weeks before the show arrived.
 Pictured at the bottom are old circus wagons.  The cannon truck at the top was used by Bruno Zacchini, the human cannonball. They had a picture of the truck when Bruno performed at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh, a show that I saw.  How neat. 
Ca' d'Zan - House of John, was the home of John and Mabel.  It was built in the Mediterranean Style and was based on buildings in Venice and Seville.  The house faces the river and is quite impressive.
The interior had all the opulence you find in the homes of the rich.  That said, John was wiped out by the 1929 crash and died penniless.
There is also an art museum that we did not get to visit after spending so much time at the circus exhibits and the house.  These are a few of the outdoor sculptures on the grounds.  We loved the one that has been almost completely covered by the banyan tree.
A visit to the Ringling Museum should be on your to do list for the Gulf Coast of Florida and make sure you allow for plenty of time to see it all.  We were there over four hours and didn't have time to visit the Museum of Art.  Well, I guess we will just have to make a return visit.  The circus has a way of bringing out the kid in all of us.

1 comment:

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Nice post, tis a place worth seeing. The Art Museum is a day in itself and we plan on going back.