Last night, I headed over to the B&O Railroad Museum to catch a glimpse of the parade of elephants heading to the 1st Mariner Arena. The elephants, of course, were marching to the arena to kick off this year's circus spectacular Over the Top, presented by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, starting tomorrow night.
But around 7:30 last night, a dozen or so spectators huddled at the intersection of Pratt and Poppleton streets to catch their first glimpse of the pachyderms huffing and puffing their way down the street. Residents across from the B&O Museum stuck their heads of of their top floor windows to catch the action, while other families looked on from their warm cars that lined the street. About 10 elephants came slowly strolling down the street, the leader of the pack wearing a blue "crown" that read "The Greatest Show on Earth." They were followed by even more show horses, a couple of school buses of circus performers, and a few police motorcycles.
It only took about five minutes for the parade to pass, so some newcomers were a little disappointed. Cherry Hill resident Shanay Taylor brought her three children, Breyon, Mekkhi, and Shaniyah. "It was okay," she said. "I thought maybe we'd see some clowns at least. But the kids didn't know we were coming, so they were very surprised."
I also met Hampden resident Julia Gumminger who is taking a course called "The Circus: Rings Around the World" through Johns Hopkins University's Odyssey program. Her professor, circus historian Richard Flynt, was actually marching right along with the animals on the way to the arena. "I've been here for a while and I met some hardcore guys that come see the elephants every year," she said. "Families recognized each other from past years and were hanging out like old friends."
Over the Top runs through April 5 at the 1st Mariner Arena and tickets are $14-28. For more information, call 410-347-2020 or visit ringling.com.
[Image: courtesy of Julia Gumminger]