Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Clowning around

This evening St. Louis Writer's Guild held its monthly open mic at Kirkwood Train Station. During the two hour session there are ususally four or five trains that roar past. The reader pauses in mid sentence and waits for the engine to chug by. Tonight I saw a few clowns! The fourth train came whizzing by and stopped all of US in our tracks. It was the Ringling Brother's Barnum and Bailey circus train! What an awesome sight to behold.

When I was a little girl I hated the three ring circus. There was just too much going on for me to concentrate on any one particular ring. Also, I used to think that clowns were a separate species...men, women, children, clowns. I felt sorry for the caged animals. The tight rope walkers made me worry, but those trapeze artists sent me to knew heights. I loved the way they flew through the air with the greatest of ease. If I could have, I would have swung higher and higher from the trapeze bar and then dropped into the safety net below.

Do you like the circus?

Train Facts

  • Ringling Bros. is divided into two simultaneously traveling unit trains: the Red Unit and the Blue Unit.
  • Maximum train speed is 60 miles per hour.
  • The stock cars, for the elephants and other animals, ride directly behind the locomotive where the ride is the smoothest.
  • Individual stock car water tanks and electrical generators provide continuous water and power supply while the stock cars are separated from the coaches for unloading. 

Special Accommodations for Animals

Ringling Bros. stock cars are specially designed and custom-built to meet the needs of each animal species. Elephants face each other in railcars and are tethered for their safety and that of their handlers. At each venue, elephants disembark the train and are led by their handler to the venueÕs animal facility, where they remain for the duration of the stay in each town. All elephants will then board the train right before the circus leaves for the next town.

The elephant stock cars have the following special design elements:

·         Fresh supply of water available in every car

·         Food storage locations that are accessible to animal care staff while en route

·         Fans mounted in roof for air circulation; windows and doors open for cross-ventilation

·         Heating and misting systems for climate control

·         Direct access to the animals for handlers in all cars and working/living facilities for handlers in some cars to provide uninterrupted supervision of the animals while underway

·         Specially treated, non slip flooring to allow for fast, easy cleaning and disinfecting

·         Drains in car floor which function regardless of whether the train is moving or standing still

·         Specially designed ramps for loading and unloading animals

·         Additional generator to supply electricity to the stock cars when separated from main power source



Sioux Roslawski said...

I used to love the circus as a kid, but as I've grown older, the circus makes me depressed...angry...militant.

If there was a circus of just people, I'd gladly support it. But the elephants look sad, the tigers don't look particularly happy, and after reading "Water for Elephants," I'm suspicious of what goes on after the show is over.

Sorry to be a downer this morning. When I was a kid, the three rings drove me crazy, too. Too much going on at the same time. My eyes would swivel back and forth in frustration...I was just sure I would miss something in one of the rings while I was focused on another one of them.

Bookie said...

I'm with you, three rings drove me crazy....felt like I was missing it now matter how much I saw!

Susan said...

Loved going to the circus, Linda. They have always been fun events to attend. I liked looking at the elephants, performing monkeys, tightrope artists-----everything. And the popcorn, too! Susan

Lynn said...

I never had the privilege to attend a three ring circus... wah. I do hope all the animals are treated nice though.

Joanne Noragon said...

The circus performed annually at the old Richfield Coliseum. The train let all the animals off in my town, Peninsula, way down in the valley. The elephants walked up out of the valley the several miles to the coliesum. The citizens turned out to watch. It all belongs to the National Park service, now. Here is a link to the only picture I could find on short notice of the elephants walking up state route 303 to the coliseum. Scroll a little down the page.


Val said...

I've never been to a circus. But I've read Water for Elephants, so I feel like an insider.

Your account of the Kirkwood Train Station made me wonder if the clowns kept climbing out of the train car like there was no end to them. It's much roomier than their regular little clown car, I hear.

Pat Wahler said...

I, too, am not a fan of wild animals being used by a circus solely for the amusement of spectators. It's dangerous, unhealthy, and unnatural for them to "perform" tricks. Not to mention the small cages/spaces to which they are confined when not performing. The whole thing is heartbreaking.

Critter Alley

Mevely317 said...

Would you believe, I’ve never attended a real circus? ....
Not yet, that is!

Before they passed, my uncle and aunt were involved through their church with the many circus folks in Sarasota; and were close friends with Karl Wallenda and his family. In fact, my mother had the opportunity to meet one of the Wallenda ladies ... who, as it turned out, was one of the little girls who’d ridden on top of her grandfather’s human pyramid. Just remembering those high-wire stunts still gives me chills.

Since I’ve been known to turn my ankle on perfectly flat surfaces, I don’t think I could stand to watch them in person.