From The Vault: Cincinnati's longtime love affair with the circus

Posted at 6:00 AM, Mar 09, 2017

CINCINNATI -- This week, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey will bring the big top to Cincinnati for the last time. 

In January, the company announced "The Greatest Show On Earth" would close in May after 146 years.

Generations of Cincinnatians have watched the circuses parade through the city. There was a time when area schools and banks closed on the day the circus came to town.

WATCH the circus parade from 1972 below:


Cincinnati's roots to the circus predate WCPO by a century. 

Besides the big-name circuses we're all familiar with, like Barnum & Bailey and the Ringling Bros., some local, family-run circuses enjoyed their time in the sun.

John Robinson's Circus' true "home" was Terrace Park, just east of Mariemont. The traveling circus summered in Terrace Park for more than 50 years at the turn of the century. Historians say the Robinsons' prized elephant, Tillie, was buried in Terrace Park, after her legs were "chopped off" to be used as umbrella stands.

READ MORE: As 'The Greatest Show on Earth' ends, a reminder of Cincinnati's robust circus legacy

The Robinson Circus toured until 1911 when it became part of the American Circus Corporation, which was later purchased by the Ringling Brothers. This purchase gave Ringling control over essentially every traveling circus in the country.

The Syrian Shrine Circus has been a staple in Cincinnati for 96 years, but recently found itself homeless with the closing of the Cincinnati Gardens in 2016. In February, BB&T Arena hosted the Shriner's circus.

The "Greatest Show on Earth" is in Cincinnati March 10-19.

RELATED: Win a VIP Insider Package to the circus

Below: Circus acrobats in Cincinnati, 1983