Ringling's final show commences after 146 years

The clowns, animal acts and acrobats of the storied Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus took their final bow at an arena outside NY on Sunday, with a space-themed balancing act kicking off the farewell performance of the "Greatest Show on Earth" after almost 150 years.

After almost 150 years, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus will perform its last show in Uniondale, New York.

In a show of support, Circus World invited the performers in Ringling Bros Circus to be the Grand Marshalls in Baraboo's annual Big Top Parade this July.

You can also watch a live stream of the show beginning at 6 pm CST on Ringling.com, Facebook live or YouTube.

The finale, announced by Feld in January, came a year after the company bowed to pressure from animal rights activists and agreed to stop using elephants in its performances.

It was sold to Mattel in 1971, but the Feld family continued to manage the shows.

"We are the bedrock of American pop culture, we have influenced a tremendous amount in society, we've added to the vernacular, hold your horses, throw your hat in the ring, the show must go on, jumble, that's all of us", said Ringmaster Jonathan Lee Iverson. "I want to bring my son or daughter to the circus some day".

Officials said more than a quarter of a billion people have seen the "Greatest Show on Earth".

For Ashley Byrne, associate director of campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the circus' final show "can't come soon enough".

Ringling is "the grandparent" of the circus art form and many other kinds of modern live entertainment, according to Scott O'Donnell, a former performer with Ringling and now executive director of Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

O'Donnell, the museum director, said he hoped the Ringling Bros. circus would be remembered for its special place in history, but looked forward to seeing the future of the industry. "Sorry, boys, I don't usually do that", he said turning back to the patient tigers, awaiting their next cues. The show shut down after 146 years of performances. In making her the 39th person to play the role of circus host, Feld said it was taking a step toward modernizing the circus. The other one ended its run earlier this month in Providence.

"The big show is gone, but circus doesn't have to be", Stephen Craig, one of the show's clowns, said.

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