When you think back to some of those defining moments of your childhood, they probably aren’t deep, meaningful memories. They are probably moments of pure and utter happiness. Perhaps it was a rainy day and your parents argued in the car and your brother wouldn’t stop messing with you. But you don’t remember any of that. You remember the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
That’s how my memories of the circus are. We may have gone more than once but they’ve also meshed into this giant CIRCUS memory in my head. I have visions of women in sparkly outfits on the trapeze, clowns piling out of a clown car, and elephants trumpeting through the arena. And for years after, I treasured the pink pennant with the elephant on it that I proudly hung it on my bedroom wall. I fancied over the spinning flashlight that my parents purchased for me to wave around in the dark.
It was a simpler time and I adored the circus. Until I got older and got a conscience.
As an adult, I recognized my joy at seeing the circus did not outweigh the conditions under which wild animals were help in captivity. And as much as I longed to take my son, I could not support a circus that used animals in a way that now seems barbaric.
It was just last year that we attended a local circus in town and ended up leaving halfway through the performance when the tigers were brought out in cages. The first half of the show was so enjoyable and entertaining with all of the human acts that I wished that the circus would leave animals out of the show altogether.
When I received a press release about Big Apple Circus coming to Washington DC, I wanted to make sure I did my homework before attending. I googled “Big Apple Circus” and “animals” and was quickly taken to an FAQ page on the circus’ site:
There are no wild or exotic animals performing in Big Apple Circus. The only animals included in our show are our beloved rescue dogs and horses/ponies, that are cared for by our certified horse and dog trainer Jenny Vidbel. Additionally, Big Apple Circus complies with all federal, state, and local regulations, in addition to our own stringent animal care standards. The safety of all animals and humans working and performing with the Big Apple Circus is paramount.
It helps that Jenny Vidbel is not only a third generation circus animal trainer but she’s clearly an animal advocate. With that knowledge under my belt, we headed for the opening night performance of Big Apple Circus in National Harbor.
Big Apple Circus, under new ownership since February 2017, is now touring to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the circus. Similar to Cirque du Soleil, the circus is known for its one-ring, intimate and artistic style, where no seat is more than 50 feet from the performers. In fact, I was surprised to see that this “intimate setting” actually seating 1715 people! There really isn’t a bad seat to be had but I was lucky enough to have press seats two rows back from the center. Even if I didn’t sit there, I still would have been able to take some of these amazing photos (yes, non-flash photo and video is allowed).
Here are my top reasons that I recommend you check out Big Apple Circus when it comes to a city near you.
The Amazing World of Humans
This circus is focused on human talents and acts and I promise you won’t miss the lack of exotic animals. You’ll be entertained (and maybe feel like you’re attending an episode of America’s Got Talent) as you watch contortionists, roller skaters, jugglers, and other acts for which I don’t have names!
Funny (Not Scary) Clowns
There were two clowns and I promise they weren’t scary in the slightest. In fact, they were really, really funny. So funny that they reminded me what it’s like unplug, enjoy, and laugh at silly things.
Clearly, I’m an animal lover but I’m also an animal advocate. I had no issues with the domesticated horses and ponies that performed together. But the rescue dogs that came out stole my heart. I don’t think there was anything amazing about their tricks. It just looked like they were all having a really good time!
The Flying Wallendas
The “headliners” of the show were definitely the Flying Wallendas. The seventh generation high wire act has its roots in late 1700s Austria-Hungary. Today the team is lead by Nik Wallenda and they continue to perform death-defying feats even after facing many family tragedies.
Circus Meet and Greet
Most surprising was the chance to meet the circus performers after the show. In the lobby area, we engaged with so many of the performers (side note: those women have some pretty massive muscles) and even got to take some photographs with our favorites (mine being Nik Wallenda – he’s a celebrity!).
The Joy of the Circus
The biggest reason to head to the circus, though, hasn’t changed in all these years. It’s still about creating memories for your children. My 11 year old son, who is practically a 30 year old man, forgot himself the night we went to the circus. I bought him a flashing light just like I had all those years ago, sat back, and watched him gasp and giggle the whole night.
If you haven’t had a chance to see the new Big Apple Circus, you’ll be able to catch it in Washington, DC at National Harbor until April 1st when it will then head to Boston. Keep checking their website for national touring information. And check out my latest video to see a quick glimpse of all the circus performers in action!
Big Apple Circus provided me complimentary press passes for me and my family. All thoughts and opinions are my own.