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Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus 2014 in Anaheim, California

The Longest Private Train in the World
The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Blue Unit Circus Train

in Anaheim, California, July 25, 2014

This report includes photos of the Circus Train in Anaheim; photos enroute along the Southern California Coast; and photos of the Circus Opening Night Performance in Anaheim.

Photos and text by Carl Morrison,



RBB Circus Blue Shield on the coaches and elephants


The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has been coming to Anaheim each summer for years, but this is only my 12th year to report on it for  Earlier reports are at, just scan or search through the over 100 rail reports for "circus".

Table of Contents

  1. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has two complete trainsets, the Blue Unit and the Red Unit.
  2. There are several ways to see the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus train.
  3. Photos of the circus train coaches and flat cars tied up in Anaheim and Matt Loory, Executive Chef, Bio. and interview.
  4. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus' Blue Unit "Legends" performance, July 25, 2014.
  5. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Blue Unit Circus Train Underway along the Pacific Coast at San Clemente, California.
  6. Links for this Report
To see when the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be near you, go to: and click "Tour Schedule" and enter your ZIP code or State.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has two complete trainsets, the Blue Unit and the Red Unit. 

Each is identified from the outside by the shield on the side of the cars.  This year the Blue Unit is in Anaheim and the background of the shield (above) is blue.  The background of the red unit shield is red.  The banner on the side of the cars with the name "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus" always has a red background.  Additionally, the shields on the elephants' heads (above) are the same logos as the corresponding background color of the Unit.  Employees of the circus usually have shirts that correspond to unit's color.  Even equipment and vehicles that you see on the train during a move is usually either white, or blue or red to correspond to the color of the unit.   If you see a red pickup truck on a flat car of the blue unit during a move, that can be explained as a replacement from the other unit during the tour.  Currently, the Blue Unit is the longest of the two units (by count of cars) with its 36 coaches (residential cars for performers and crew), 4 animal cars, and the remainder "flats" (open flat cars onto which they load the circus wagons for the move to the next venue.)  The cars in the consist during a move are front to back:  the animal cars (with the smoothest ride), the coaches, followed by the flats.  If you see a different arrangement of cars, it might be for a short move between venues.

Once the circus train reaches the next venue, the animal cars are unloaded followed by the flats.  The coaches are placed in their location sometime during the process.

There are several ways to see the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus train.

You might see the circus train underway when you are traveling.  As I recall, I've seen the circus train underway by chance in San Luis Obispo, Cajon Pass, and Stockton, California.

A second way to see the circus train is to find out when and where it will be unloading or loading at a venue near you.  The coaches will not be attached, but you can see the animal cars and the flat cars.  The loading is the most predictable.  They usually load out about two hours after the last performance in a town.  This means it will be late at night and this may complicate any photography of the loading.  Unloading is usually in the daytime.  You can check when their last performance ended and when the next one begins.  The unloading cannot take place until the tent and food are in place at the arriving venue, so they may not leave as predicted above if the arriving venue is not ready.  If there is to be an animal walk in the city where you go to see the unloading, that makes it more interesting.  However, this was the first year in a long time that there was no animal walk.  The reason given to the media was that it was less expensive and time consuming to truck the animals from the train to the venue considering the fact that local police must block streets and have personnel on hand to direct traffic.

The third way to see the circus train, although it will be a static photo/view, is to find where the coaches, animal cars, and flat cars are parked (usually three different locations) while the circus is in town.  I happened across such a spot locally years ago and they have been parking there ever since.  However, be careful not to trespass on railroad property, but rather shoot your photos from a public street or bridge.  Media are sometimes invited into the Pie Car to interview circus personnel and those arrangements are made through the local publicist for the circus. 

The fourth, and perhaps the most exciting way resulting in the best photos, is to chase the train as it moves from one venue to another.  Again, timing is the difficult part.  A fellow TrainWeb Field Reporter, Chris Guenzler, watches and asks me to go on a chase with him on the day of the move between two Southern California venues.  Later in this report will be photos from that chase this year.

Photos of the circus train coaches and flat cars tied up in Anaheim.


Typical appearance of Ringling rail cars with standard identifying information.  The car number with the yellow background is used as an easy address when directions are given between circus train occupants.

RBBX 40014 - (ex-AMTK 4596, exx-UP 5556, nee-American View) ACF LW 6 Sect - 6 Rmt - 4 DBR rblt. to house car. (RR PICTURE ARCHIVES)

Car descriptions above and below from:


Car No. 180 is the north end of where the 36 coaches were split into two sets.  The bus for transporting performers and crew to the arena is at left.  This day there was a dress rehearsal in the afternoon and the first performance in Anaheim was at 7:30 pm. 


Bus Driver, David Roselli at his last day on the job.


The flat cars which carry the circus wagons on moves from one city to the next.  The wagons are off loaded by being pulled to the end of the flatcars and pulled down a ramp to a railroad crossing, then turned and taken to the arena.  The upturned plates on the cars above, allow the wagons to be pulled the length of all the flat cars then down to street level. 


Four circus wagons at the arena, showing 3 different Ringling Logos.  These are loaded onto flat cars for transport from city to city.  They have hard rubber tires rather than pneumatic tires since they only travel between the train and the arena.  Up to seven of them can be connected into a continuous train for the short trip between the flatcars and the arena.  They contain concessions and rigging.


The south end of the cut of the 36 coaches.  Car 181 is the "Pie Car" or diner where train occupants can eat and meet socially during moves.  "Pie Car, Jr." is a trailer equipped to serve food at the arena between performances on multi-performance days.  Personnel who do not go to the arena, like train crew, eat in the Pie Car as well as other folks who are on the train at meal time.  Some private accommodations have their own cooking facilities.  Some performers and supporting crew travel by trailer or motorhome ahead of the train and park on the arena grounds.  Over 200 people live on the train during a two-year, 11-month season.

Ringling provided the following information about Executive Chef Matt Loory:

Matt Loory

CREDIT Feld Entertainment

Photo Credit:  Feld Entertainment

Pie Car Manager – Blue Unit

This Atlanta-born Pie Car Manager — who considers his hometown Longwood, FL — admits that the craziest thing he ever did was running away to join the circus. One of the youngest Pie Car Managers in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® history, Matt Loory has another claim to fame: biking across Georgia five times.

Matt applied to Ringling. Bros.® after learning about a job opening from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, where he graduated with Honors in 2012. The rest is history. Matt now enjoys cooking and seeing the country in ways most of the world will never know, all on the largest privately-owned train in the world.

Matt has always enjoyed cooking, and one of his most treasured memories is whipping up meals for the Jewish holidays with his mother. His foodie mentors include Gordon Ramsay, Chef Jenna Schreiber and Danny Justiniano.

Cooking for the crew of over 300 at The Greatest Show On Earth® isn’t the biggest crowd he’s cooked for; Matt has also prepared amazing cuisines for the Epcot Food and Wine Festival with Chef Christopher Prosperi of Metro Bis.

While traveling the U.S., Matt enjoys finding great local restaurants in each city and sneaking off to local farmers’ markets to find ingredients for the Pie Car.


SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA - August 1, 2014.  Matt Loory, Pie Car/Food Service Manager, was kind enough to grant me a telephone interview.  My first question for Matt was to find out how many cars are in the just-short-of-a-mile-mile-long circus train.  ssagner@nydailynews had reported in February that it was a 50-car train, which I knew was wrong.  Matt listed the consist as:  36 coaches, 19 flats, 2 container cars, and 4 animal cars.  That totals 61 cars in the Blue Unit Circus train.  [I had heard that the coastal route between LA and San Jose had a siding limit of 59 cars and that the Blue Unit would not be taking that route with its current length.]

Matt confirmed earlier information such as their being one car with two cooks for the Chinese troop of performers.  He also confirmed that no Pie Car Jr. is needed at the arena in Anaheim because there is food service at the arena. 

There are five employees under Matt that prove all the food service for the train.

I asked if he takes advantage of regional products as they traverse the country as I know private car chefs do.  Matt says he always has a $6 main line menu and it usually includes regional specialties which he acquires from local farmers' markets.  He always has the standard favorite cheeseburgers, hamburgers, chicken wings, etc.

I asked who he orders food to stock his pantry from when in Anaheim.  He said Sysco, which I am familiar with.  He says he can call back to the home office to get the vendors they have used in the past in each city.  He had mentioned with other reporters that one difficulty with being in so many cities was the inability of food delivery trucks being able to find where the train was tied up.  He says they often call and say they are at the station, but the circus train never ties up at a station, so further directions are repeated to new drivers.

Finally, I asked what interaction he, as the Pie Car Manager, has with the Train Master.  Matt said the spotting of the Pie Car, with its side delivery door, must be where the door is not blocked by a pole or such that the food trucks cannot unload into the Pie Car.  Also, the Pie Car must be spotted on the outside set of tracks, with a road next it for the food deliveries to be made by truck.  Matt also has to be sure that food is available for the train crew who might be ending a 14-hour day of loading or unloading.  Even though the performers might eat at the arena from the Pie Car Jr., the train crew is always at the train and needs to be fed there.

Thank you, Matt, for taking the time in your very busy and long day to allow me to interview you, and I look forward to seeing you in two years as you return to Anaheim.


Alisa Newman of OC Family interview Matt and learned:

Matt Loory

"he says his biggest challenge is chasing down those food delivery trucks!"

"over 18 different countries represented and over 20 different languages spoken by the circus performers... #1 top seller is ...A good ol’ cheeseburger! I... many other food items are offered including chicken sandwiches and hot dogs...his signature Asian inspired meatloaf with wasabi mashed potatoes ...and his fried rice with sweet chili beef."

"his favorite types of foods are ...Breakfast foods"

"The circus train has 2 kitchens called the “pie carts” [sic] (Alisa it is Pie "Car"). desserts From cheesecakes to key lime pie, chocolate chip cookies, and their top selling dessert- the “fudgy wudgy” chocolate cake- "



Short Video of Matt in the Pie Car:


Highlights from an interview by Stan Sagner  NEW YORK DAILY NEWS   Monday, February 24, 2014, 4:44 PM

Head Chef for Ringling Bros

Some chefs feel like they cook for a bunch of clowns, but in Matt Loory’s case, he actually does. Not to mention trapeze artists, lion tamers, jugglers and acrobats.

Loory is the head chef for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ employee-only dining car — a central gathering point on the 50-car caravan that roams the country 48 weeks per year, as it has since 1890.

The demanding role of preparing 1,500 meals per week keeps Loory and his five-person team busy nearly 24/7. A typical day starts with breakfast prep at 5:30 a.m. and can wind down at 2 a.m. after a brutal triple-show day by the 300 performers and crew.

“We are a rolling city without a zip code,” he says. “The job is never-ending. When not cooking, we’re planning menus, shopping and getting ready for the next move.”

At each new stop, trucks make deliveries to the so-called “Pie Car” — the name refers either to the circus’ early days of only serving sweet or savory pies, or an abbreviation of the old term, “Prime Individuals and Employees,” which established a “velvet rope” area for circus elite who didn’t have to eat in the tent with the rest of the crew.

The kitchen’s daily output includes at least two fully composed meals including protein, starch, veggies and a drink. One meal gets served onboard the train, the other is carted to the venue for the performers to eat on the fly.

No one is allowed to eat in their costumes.  “You don’t want to get stew on your leotard,” Loory says.

The kitchen also operates as a full-time diner whipping up deli sandwiches, hot dogs and ever-popular cheeseburgers.

“These guys burn it off faster than they can eat it,” Loory says of the high-calorie fare. “Surprisingly, the Chinese female acrobats seem to love the cheeseburgers the most. They can’t get enough.”

Loory has mastered preparing a lot of food in a very short time in a kitchen.

“We fell short one day and I had to make goulash in the fly for 50 people in about 45 minutes,” he says.

One peril, though: cooking on a moving train. “I tried to boil a big pot of soup once and ended up wearing it. Not fun,” he says. The car uses magnetic “induction” burners to avoid the fire hazard of cooking with an open flame.

Loory, a former Target security guard, got his start as a short-order cook before heading to culinary school. As a freshly minted graduate of Florida’s Le Cordon Bleu, he happened to spot an online posting last year for line cook positions with “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

Loory, an intrepid traveler who first flew unaccompanied at age 3 thanks to some fudged paperwork, leapt at the opportunity to roam the country while pursuing his passion to cook. But a mere month into the job, his boss left, putting Loory, a green apprentice, in charge.

Loory and his crew attempt to bring a taste of home for hundreds of occasionally homesick performers from 18 countries ranging from Argentina to Uzbekistan.
“Sometimes it’s a hit, sometimes ... not so much,” he says. “We try to recreate some of the flavors that the performers miss: curries, Mongolian hot pot, Brazilian food. The performers never fail to let us know how we did, but they do appreciate the effort.”

Life on the rails isn’t too glorious — yes, Loory has his own space, but it’s 1/6 of a train car — but he does get one genuine perk on his birthday.
“This is a circus,” Loory says. “No matter who you are — including the owner, if the clowns get wind of the fact it’s your birthday, you’re getting pied in the face.”
Everyone else gets a shaving cream pie, not a whipped cream version, mostly to keep the costumes from turning rancid. But Loory, ever the chef, requests his with the real thing.



The second cut from the south end with RBBX 60001 Shop Car at the end.

RBBX 60001 - (ex-RBX 70, exx-UP 904274, nee-5749) LW mail storage rblt. to shop car. (SKIP'S RR DEPOT)


It was getting close to time for David to take his 1 pm passengers to the venue as I passed RBBX 41308, a House Car.

RBBX 41308 - (ex-RBX 46, exx-NJT 5437, exxx-PC 1512, exxxx-PRR, exxxxx-8268 John Pitcarin, nee-8268 Lima Inn) Budd 21 Rmt rblt. to commuter coach, conv. to house car. (RR - FALLEN FLAGS)


I missed seeing the 1 pm bus return to the arena, but spied a worker under a house car servicing the loo ahead as I passed House Car RBBX 41309.

RBBX 41309 - (ex-RBX 53, exx-NJT 5403, exxx-PC 3239, exxxx-PRR 1497, nee-N&W Duke University) Budd smooth side 10 Rmt - 6 DBR rblt. to commuter coach, conv. to house car. (RR - FALLEN FLAGS)


Nice vehicle that travels with the train.  Its purpose is to service the Donnikers. 

(For a definition of "Donniker", check my 2009 Circus Vocabulary at:

The loo crew travels in a trailer rather than living on the train.  With him in the trailer are his wife and three girls.  They like being able to see famous places as they travel around the USA.  Most employees join the circus in Florida where they have a huge facility.  Both trains return to the Florida location for about a month in winter.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus' Blue Unit "Legends" performance, July 25, 2014.


The Asian elephants have been with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus for 130 years.  The circus even maintains a conservation and reproduction center.  You can learn more about the center at: 

You can pick up your tickets as early as 1 1/2 hrs. before the performance time.  This gives you time to visit the Animal Open House, an outside area where you can view the performing animals before they go on stage such as elephants, big cats, horses, and smaller animals that will be in the show.








If you have heard about abuse of the elephants, you might be interested in the court judgment in 2012:  "McLEAN, Va. (AP) — The parent company of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has received a nearly $16 million settlement from a number of animal-rights groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, ending a 14-year legal battle initiated over unproven allegations of mistreated elephants."  From:  The court judgment is at

The "All Access Pre-Show Experience."

Promptly one hour before the performance, everyone is invited inside the arena, and down on the arena floor for the "All Access Pre-Show Experience."



This is your chance to get up close and personal with the performers.  Since many performers are from foreign countries, I like to ask them where they are from and they seem proud to announce their home country.


Yours Truly with Jesse Pike during the Preshow. 

A program from the performance allows you to identify cast members, learn their names, then look them up on the "Clown Alley" page and the Internet to learn more about them. 

The following bio. for Jesse Pike is from the Ringling site:

 Jesse Pike

Talk about a nutty professor! Throughout his life, Jesse Pike has had two passions: inventing and clowning. In an ideal world, he’d be able to combine the two, but for now he’s content, if not thrilled, to be part of Clown Alley. Born in Point Pleasant, NJ, Jesse always had aspirations of super clown-dom, dressing as one every Halloween from age 5 to 13. In 2012, he graduated from Pennsylvania College of Technology with a degree in Plastic and Polymer Engineering Technology. Even now, he finds ways of putting it to good use by experimenting with new methods of clowning, stunts, pratfalls and gags. Jesse attributes his skill in physical comedy to professionals like Jim Carrey and his “flexible face” to older sister, Juliana. “My sister and I got along really well,” says Jesse. “She would love to play with my face and really stretch it out when we were younger. I guess I should thank her, because now I’m able to contort my face in unimaginable ways and express a variety of zany emotions .” Jesse enjoys being part of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® family because of its positive like-minded people and learning new skills. In addition to his act, which includes comedic juggling and stilt dancing, Jesse also has skills in unicycling, diabolo, yo-yo, balloon twisting and kendama.

The following portion of an article was written by Ed Condran, Correspondent; 12:04 a.m. EDT May 16, 2014.  The entire article is at:

Interview of Jesse Pike:

“I just want to say one word to you. Plastics.”

The most famous line from the legendary film “The Graduate’’ also applies to Jesse Pike.

The Point Pleasant Borough native initially thought plastics was the answer when it came to a career. That’s why he studied at the Pennsylvania College of Technology after graduating Point Pleasant Borough High School in 2012.

“I wanted to go to a tech school to learn about plastic,” Pike said. “Plastic is everywhere. I thought that would make for a fascinating and lucrative career.”

Pike eventually discovered that his heart wasn’t in plastics, however. The former class cut-up decided to become a professional clown rather than toil in technology.

“My girlfriend, who is from South Jersey, went to circus school. I thought that would be cool,” Pike said. “I was right.”

Pike studied to be a clown while his gal pal aspired to become an aerialist. Pike was hired by Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus last year and he made his debut in January.

“It’s awesome,” Pike said. “My girlfriend didn’t get the aerialist job, but she has a job working backstage. It’s been really good for us. I love being a clown. I got my first taste of it working at Six Flags when I was 17. I was a stiltwalker there. I fell in love with making people happy. I love making people laugh.”

Pike said he always enjoys visiting home – but he loves the travel.

“I love looking out of the train window and seeing America,” Pike said. “I’m looking forward to traveling to California for the first time later this year. My parents are thrilled that I found my dream job. You can have plastics. I would have been miserable having a job where I just worked with plastics. I needed to have a job where I have fun every day and that’s what I’m doing. The toughest part for me is doing three shows two days in a row. We call those days ‘six packs.’ But it’s fun. I get to hang with the clowns and make kids happy. What could be better than that?”




Performers do similar acts during the Preshow, but look how close you can be to them.  Your ticket gets you into the Preshow.


Matthew Belopavlovich, Host of the All Access Pre-show

Matthew Balopavlovich’s love for the circus started when he was a young child growing up in Madison, WI. Living close to Circus World Museum in Baraboo, his parents took him dressed up as a clown to gain free admission. For fun while growing up, Matthew created clown shows for the neighbors as his passion for acting and performing continued to grow. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a BFA in Acting and made his professional theatre debut his junior year in college at The Skylight Music Theatre in Milwaukee. Directing and teaching students became his next path as Matthew became the spring musical director at Hartford University and then worked for the Center for Applied Theatre of Milwaukee.

He attributes his career and success in the art of clowning to his college professors and is grateful that he was selected to perform his original clown theatre piece at the 2012 New York Clown Festival. With a desire to work for the largest and best circus in the world, Matthew joined Ringling Bros. in November 2012 after trying out for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College® at Grand Central Station in NY.

Currently Matthew hosts the All Access Pre-show and enjoys connecting with Children Of All Ages, listening to the excitement in their voices as he meets energized kids night after night! He also stays in shape on the road by running outside and creating specialized workouts for small spaces like his train car.


A new trick for this elephant.


Modern Art by Elephant.

The "Legends" performance begins.


First, the National Anthem sung by Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson


 Johnathan Lee Iverson


Johnathan Lee Iverson welcomes Children Of All Ages to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents LEGENDSSM. A multi-talented performer and an exceptional vocalist, Johnathan will don the iconic top hat and preside over this legendary cast that brings together mythical lore with authentic circus feats found only at The Greatest Show On Earth®!

A New York City native, Johnathan began performing at age 11 with the world-famous Boys Choir of Harlem. For seven years, he was intensely trained in all forms of music including classical, jazz, hip hop, and gospel. Johnathan experienced a string of unforgettable, inspiring moments as a member of the Boys Choir, which included being awarded the lead tenor role for the choir, singing at the intermission for Luciano Pavarotti's Concert in Central Park, performing in a live show on Broadway for two weeks, and winning second place in the Lena Horne Vocal Jazz Scholarship.

Johnathan graduated from the University of Hartford's Hartt School in May 1998 with a degree in voice performance, and shortly after his graduation, Johnathan was invited to begin his professional entertainment career with the 129th Edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®. Johnathan couldn’t refuse the offer and felt his prominent role in the show was an unbelievable dream come true.

Johnathan toured with Ringling Bros.® all around the United States, and his charismatic charm and his incredible voice caught the eye of Barbara Walters, who within a year of his first tour named him one of the ten most fascinating people in 1999. Johnathan’s continuous passion for performance and his drive for excellence earned him an invitation back to perform with the 131st and 133rd Editions.

After three consecutive tours with The Greatest Show On Earth, Johnathan left to pursue other performance opportunities, but continued to work with Ringling Bros. for special events. Johnathan performed in several off-Broadway productions including Carnival, Showboat, The Magic Flute, and Dreamgirls. He also acted in commercials for Jeep, Six Flags Great Adventure and Casual Male XL, as well as singing with the USO Liberty Bells of New York, voiceovers for the animated feature Eloise, and a bit of freelance journalism under his pen name J. Frederick Baptiste/Johnathan Baptiste.

After touring with the 140th Edition, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents BARNUM 200SM and the 142nd Edition of DRAGONS, Johnathan was filled with joy when he was asked to continue his reign as Ringmaster for another memorable 144nd Edition, LEGENDS. “Ringling Bros. is truly The Greatest Show On Earth. It amazes me how every year the producers and the creative team come together to create one innovative circus spectacular after another!” exclaims Johnathan.

Joining Johnathan on the rails is his wife and fellow performer Priscilla, whom he met and married while previously touring with Ringling Bros., and their children Matthew Felipe and Lila Simone.


Paulo Dos Santo

In Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents LEGENDS, Paulo dos Santos is a little person, but don’t let his diminutive stature fool you. He is a powerhouse of energy and laughter for Children Of All Ages. Paulo played sports growing up, and had a passion for movement and performance. He and his Capoeira master would teach one another dance moves and incorporate acrobatics. They would practice their routines and have dance competitions on the streets of Sao Paulo. Ultimately, Paulo became skilled in the art of Capoeira, which is a combination of martial arts, dance moves and acrobatics extremely popular in Brazil.

Paulo’s enthusiasm for performance broadened when, at age 20, he began to participate in theater. He joined a touring production The Wizard of Oz, and discovered that “it doesn’t matter the size of the man, what matters is how capable the man is.” Paulo’s passion for performance was ignited.

In 2005, while working on a circus production, Paulo first experienced America and loved it. Soon after, he returned to his country to teach Capoeira, and in 2006 became a Master in Capoeira. Paulo’s skills were noted by the leader of a famous competitive Capoeira group, the Santa Maria, and he was asked to be part of this elite troupe. Paulo was successful in many of the competitions he participated in, and as a crowning achievement, he won first place in the National Capoeira Competitions in Brazil. Paulo’s acrobatic skills, performance ability, and dedication caught the eye of Ringling Bros.® Producers Nicole Feld and Alana Feld.

Paulo continues his role as the loveable Ringmaster’s sidekick in the new 144th Edition, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents LEGENDS. He feels as though this role was made for him, “I’m so outgoing, and funny, the audience enjoys my character. I can pass all of my great energy onto them,” Paulo says. “I’m privileged to come back and work for Ringling Bros. It really feels like home for me, and I get to show off my acrobatic skills and perform with the Ringmaster again!”

His debut with Ringling Bros. was in the 140th Edition of Barnum 200 and Paulo is thrilled that he can once again entertain audiences in cities across the United States, as well as relive and share the amazing experiences each location has to offer with his traveling companions, his wife, Janaina, their two sons and their newest addition, a little girl born in December 2013.

I searched the Internet for images of Paulo and this one I took on him in the Pie Car in 2010, turned up:


China National Acrobatic Troupe


China National Acrobatic Troupe

Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey ® Circus is the magical place where real legends live and appear in front of Children of All Ages. This year in the 144th Edition of Ringling Bros.®, audiences will see unbelievable acts from 28 legendary China National Acrobatic Troupe members from Beijing. This young group has taken the traditional disciplines of Diabolo, Hoop Diving, Pole Climbing and Bicycle Riding and given them an energized new look and epic physical construction that comes to life during the show.

Founded in 1950, China National Acrobatic Troupe (CNAT) was the first national performing arts troupe established by the Central Government of China. They actively combine tradition with innovation and not only preserve many traditional programs but also incorporate acrobatics, music, dance, drama, Chinese Kung Fu, Beijing opera, etc.

During the last 60 years, CNAT has won 53 golden awards at some famous festivals in China and abroad. They have visited 123 countries and regions and have been considered one of the most famous acrobatic troupes in China.

Ranging from 18 to 26 years old, troupe members start practicing at a young age and come from many different provinces and cities in China. The best students from acrobatic schools nationwide are asked to join the China National Acrobatic Troupe, many graduating from the Beijing International Arts School or a provincial acrobatic school.

Diabolo Act

The Jade Statues come to life in a graceful display combining elegant choreography, precise timing and coordination with jaw-dropping diabolo juggling skills. The spinning diabolos dance in the air like synchronized fountains and are caught by these masterful artists in a unique and memorable performance.

Hoop Diving

An incredible, fast-paced display of hoop-diving is presented by multiple members. They tumble through a hoop more than 10 feet above the ground and 40 inches in diameter. The sheer excitement builds as one incredible tumbler soars through stacked hoops as tall as a professional basketball goal with the power and dynamic energy of an NBA superstar!

Pole Climbing

Believe in the unbelievable as this dual vertical pole act, displaying strength and skill, will take your imagination to new heights. Six awesome acrobats will climb, jump, spin and straddle the twin Chinese poles.

Bicycle Act

Bicycles of gold appear in this rolling ballet featuring 20 male and female acrobats in an epic stacked moving pyramid built on top of a pair of bikes forming a giant moving fan.


Accelerated Amazement with the Torres Family's 8 motorcycles in a Globe of Steel.

Torres Family

Globe of Steel

Imagine a 16-foot steel globe with not four, not six, but EIGHT motorcycles orbiting around at 65 miles per hour. Impossible? Not for this thrill-seeking family from Paraguay. The Torres Family, led by Ariel Torres, first joined Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® for the 133rd Edition and has been a perennial fan favorite with record-shattering performances ever since.

Motocross is a popular sport for kids in Paraguay, and the Torres family is no exception. The family raced professionally in many motocross circuits thriving in Latin America. While visiting Argentina, the family members got their first glimpse of the imposing contraption that would change their lives forever. A fellow motocross competitor and friend who also performed for a local circus had an act that included a steel globe with motorcycles racing around inside. As soon as they laid eyes on the act they were hooked immediately. “It was a lot like being on a motocross course condensed into a 16-foot, spherical space,” explains troupe leader Ariel Torres.

Within a year the Torres family had learned and perfected the act and was invited to perform in popular Latin circuses, including Circo Nacional de España, Circo Hermanos Muños, Circo del Sol and Circo Tejedos. The troupe has also appeared on well-known television programs in both Argentina and their native Paraguay.

Now with more than 15 years of experience, the act has evolved with faster speeds, more motorcycles and complex maneuvers. The Torres family describes its technique inside the globe as “very much like what pilots do in an air show.” Blowing a whistle and revving their engines to cue one another, each rider embarks upon a set pattern. Once the riders are in motion, maintaining constant speeds (which can reach up to 65 miles per hour) and the distance from one another is critical. Still, when they are inside the globe they are “completely focused on where everyone else is and are making constant, micro-second adjustments.” Although the Torres family admits that being in the globe can be unnerving at times, they find confidence by feeding off the audience’s energy and applause. To them, this is not just a job; it is their life, their passion, and love for motorcycles that really drive them to give the best performance they can.

This death-defying family is eager to push the limits of their act even further as they make their second appearance with eight motorcycles in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents LEGENDSSM. The family is a tight-knit group, both outside and inside the globe and is excited to be performing with The Greatest Show On Earth®.


Carmen V Torres Colossa, the only lady in the Torres Family Act.



Alexander Lacey and his Big Cats

 Alexander Lacey

Big Cats Trainer and Presenter

Making his second American appearance with Ringling Bros. and Barnum& Bailey® Presents LEGENDSSM, Alexander Lacey, along with his legendary big cats that includes lions and tigers, will show audiences the brotherly and sisterly love he shares with these majestic cats.

Originally from Nottingham, England, Alexander is the oldest of three sons. He grew up learning about big-cat husbandry while his father Martin was a zoo and circus director and his mother Susan traveled the world and presented white tigers. The family has raised more than 11 generations of lions and nine generations of tigers and continues to develop methods to maintain the integrity of the various bloodlines within the cats’ lineages. Big-cat husbandry and presentation continues to be a family affair. His father still performs and Alexander’s younger brother Martin Jr. works in Germany with Circus Krone.

Education was very important to the Lacey family. At age 11, Alexander left Nottingham to attend school in Lincolnshire, England. He always counted the days until the holidays. “I couldn’t wait to come home to the circus and help with the animals — especially the big cats,” Alexander reflects.

After graduation, he began his professional career at his father’s circus and built his first cat presentation with lions and tigers. A few years later, at age 21, Alexander took his big-cat act on the road. While spending his entire life around big cats, he not only grew up with the regal animals, but he also developed a true passion and love for them which became his career path.

Before coming to America, Alexander spent the last several years touring with his big cats throughout Germany and Europe, including France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Belgium. He earned numerous awards and accolades, including “Best of the Best” at the Circus Festival in Monte Carlo, Silver Clown award in Monaco, and the Chapiteau de Crystal Award in France.

Alexander’s typical day starts at 6:30 a.m., when he waters and prepares the cats for act practice. He observes each cat and watches for their natural characteristics and then incorporates their behaviors into the act for the show. Once practice is over, it’s time to eat! Each cat consumes around eight to 16 pounds of meat daily. By 10:00 a.m., it’s time to clean up, get another round of drinks and play! The cats love to play with branches, balls and water basins. During the evening, the younger cats practice. Right before bed time, each cat gets a serving of warm milk and liver oil, which keeps their coats healthy and shiny.

Alexander communicates with the cats in English and German. Each of his cats has its own unique behaviors, characteristics, body type and even sounds. Alexander knows each cat so well that he can identify the cats by listening to their roars.

Not only do the cats have distinct physical differences, but their personalities are unique also. “The lions, Goldy, Princess and Marley, love to play in the water. Goldy is also mischievous and Marley is more aggressive…Along with their mothers, we’ve helped raise them since birth. These cats are truly a part of my family,” Alexander attests.

“To train these cats,” Alexander says, “is the most rewarding thing for me. I hope I can continue to do so for many, many years to come.”

“Being here in America again with my family and my cats is really a dream come true for all of us,” Alexander adds. “It’s a challenge and opportunity. We love seeing the United States from coast to coast and are excited to be back and tour with a new magical show, LEGENDS.”





Legendary Elephants


The Asian elephant is a species unlike any other – the second largest land mammal in the world and one of the most intelligent animals on earth. Unfortunately, with less than 35,000 Asian elephants left on the planet, it is also one of the world’s most endangered species. As the steward of the largest sustainable elephant population in the Western Hemisphere, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® takes its responsibility to educate the public about these magnificent animals seriously.

For the past 55 million years elephant-like animals have roamed the earth. In today's world, only two members of the order Proboscidea (named for their long trunks) remain: the Asian elephant and the African elephant. The mammoth and the American mastodon, the elephants' last living relatives, are believed to have become extinct during the Ice Ages.

Elephants are also known as pachyderms. The word "pachyderm" is derived from the Greek word "pachydermose," meaning "thick-skinned." On top of its head and on its back, an elephant's skin is one to two inches thick; elsewhere on its body it is thinner. The skin, sparsely covered with wire-like bristles, protects the animal from the sun and shields against moisture loss.

An elephant's trunk is very versatile. With it an elephant smells, picks up food and other objects, and sucks up water to blow into its mouth. Elephants also use their trunks to spray liquids, sawdust and sand onto their backs for cooling or protection from flies, to greet each other, and to vocalize. A "finger" at the end of the trunk allows elephants to grasp objects much as humans do with their fingers. While an elephant's trunk is extremely powerful, it is also very agile: A pachyderm can pick up a bird's nest without breaking the eggs!

Fascinating Facts
    1. Elephants respond to some 60 verbal commands, as well as recognize human and animal friends after years of separation.
    2. 22 calves have been born at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation® with more on the way
    3. The Asian elephant has been on the endangered species list for 32 years.
    4. A female elephant is pregnant for 22 months.
    5. A Ringling Bros. calf on average weighs 300 pounds at birth
    6. 150-200 pounds of hay per day in additional to fruits, vegetables and fresh bread is the staple diet for a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Asian elephant.
    7. Depending on the weather, Asian elephants can drink 30-50 gallons of water on a daily basis.
    8. An average male Asian elephant will weigh 10,000 – 12,000 pounds.
    9. The average height of an Asian elephant is 10 feet.
    10. An elephant can have up to 150,000 muscles in its trunk.

IMG_0155.jpg  IMG_0344.jpg

When I visited the elephant enclosure before the show, I met Lauren Ramsey from Kentucky.  After 10 weeks training as an Intern in Florida, she joined the Blue Unit in Trenton and has been a Jr. Assistant with the elephants for the last 2 months.  She told me what her job was during the show.  Above right, "Lauren sure knows her way about a scoop shovel," you might say.  Young people hear about animal care Internships through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

 Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation

 A lifelong symbol of The Greatest Show on Earth®, the Asian elephant is a respected and revered member of the Ringling Bros.® family. In the interest of the species’ present and future well-being, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation® was established in 1995. Located in central Florida, this 200-acre, $5-million, state-of-the-art facility is dedicated to the conservation, breeding and understanding of these amazing animals. 


Motorcycle Highwire

Motorcycle Highwire

Alex Petrov has the best of both worlds when it comes to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents LEGENDS. He is one of two daredevil riders who roar through the arena sky on specially designed high-wires suspended 30-feet over the audience with a beautiful aerialist precariously poised from his motorcycle. As if that weren’t enough, Alex also oversees and works with the amazing animal menagerie that travel with The Greatest Show On Earth®.

Alex grew up in a family of circus veterans, both of his parents immigrated to the U.S. to work as acrobats and aerialists for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, Alex spent his early years learning, mastering, and performing various acts, including the Teeterboard and Russian swing.

While on tour with his family, Alex became good friends with Mark Oliver Gebel, son of renowned Ringling Bros. animal trainer, Gunther Gebel-Williams. The two boys would hang around together and watch Mark’s father, the esteemed trainer and handler and his many species of animals practice their acts. Attending rehearsals became a daily practice as Gunther taught his son his craft, and little did Alex know that he would later work alongside both Mark and his father. Eventually Alex was awarded the right to wear the black suit by Gunther, an honor presented to those whom the trainers trusted greatly. It was an honor he will never forget. “This was a moment of big value in my life.”

As Animal Care Superintendent, Alex is responsible for nearly 50 animals and their living environment and it is a job he takes personally. “I am always looking for new ways to engage and stimulate the animals, both mentally and physically,” he says. Alex learns about each animal by watching its behavior in various situations – at play, while feeding, at rest, and interacting with other animals and people. Alex uses voice, touch, food, or a combination of all three, and tailors his approach to best suit their individual and unique personalities. While the training never ends, according to Alex, a bond of respect grows between the two.

Alex’s day to day responsibilities includes making sure that everything runs safely and smoothly for all involved. Alex arrives at each arena early and maps out the animal compound and makes sure there is water, a dry space for hay, food delivery and storage, adequate entrance and exit paths for animals and equipment, and appropriate fencing to keep the animals safe. Alex works hand-in-hand with more than 20 people that he supervises, show management, veterinary crew, and others to ensure the Ringling Bros. animals receive the highest-quality care in every city.

While the animals of the show are Alex’s top priority, he also enjoys the thrill and rush that he experiences as a performer. Alex has performed many thrilling and death-defying acts including the upside down act where he and his wife Vicki were suspended invertedly on a platform and performed wacky, every day tasks like drinking water and playing badmitton. One of his favorite acts has been an incline perch act where he walked on a wire the width of a human thumb, while his partner performed ontop of a contraption he balanced on his head. For the 142nd Edition, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS, Alex will demonstrate his balancing skills on two wheels in a dueling motorcycle high-wire act.

In this high-flying and soaring act, Alex will compete with Andrey Medeiros as the two riders and aerialists concurrently performing highwire stunts including a handstand and spinning 360º along using a specially designed chopper that speeds up to 50 mph across a high-wire that is 5/8ths of an inch wide.

Alex’s life is in the circus and admits that if he wasn’t performing or working with animals he would be miserable. “Performing is in my blood. I’ve only been away from the circus for one year and I couldn’t wait to get back. It was a nice experience trying something new, but when I’m here at Ringling Bros. I feel more useful,” he explains.

Unlike most Ringling Bros. performers who travel on the Ringling Bros. train, Alex travels by recreational vehicle so he is closer to his animal family as well as his wife, Vicki, and their daughter Sophia and son Richard.



Dreams Take Flight with the  Tuniziani Troupe

Tuniziani Troupe

In Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents LEGENDS℠, the talents of 13 performers from the USA, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador and Mexico have combined to present a double-wide trapeze act that is both mind-blowing and spectacular to witness.

Three very different troupes with over 25 years of experience combined were scouted to make this trapeze “dream team” designed especially for Ringling Bros®. Never before seen is this gravity defying combination of synchronization, newly redesigned rigging and setup that eliminates the pauses between the maneuvers of flight typically seen in traditional flying trapeze acts.

This dream team exhibits precision, stamina, strength and perfect form while attempting four consecutive triple somersaults with only seconds between each release. This act is all about timing as the catchers keep the rhythm going high above the arena floor.

These "Solar Hawks" are made up of three females and ten males. The leader of the troupe, Abdon, performs with his two brothers, Dandino and Ammed, who are also third generation circus performers. The brothers’ grandparents were Moroccan tumblers who appeared in movies and stunt shows. Their family has a trapeze school in Las Vegas, NV where the troupe prepared its new act prior to show rehearsals for LEGENDS in Tampa, FL.



The Thundering Cossack Warriors

The Thundering Cossack Warriors — Dressage and Equine Drill, Roman and Trick Riding

In a breathtaking act of horsemanship and amazing agility, The Thundering Cossack Warriors execute incredible stunts that push the boundaries of strength and courage in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents LEGENDSSM!

Husband and wife Kanat and Tatiana Tchalabaev, crafted a masterpiece of speed, intensity and agility when they assembled this unique troupe of four women and ten men who perform with 20 powerful horses.

Horses and riders navigate a 46-foot-diameter, specially-designed ring at speeds of more than 25 miles per hour. The 14 riders are trained in acrobatics and some have equestrian backgrounds.

And the horses? Kanat prefers to work with young horses, so he can learn their strengths, behaviors and abilities early on. “The horses have different personalities,” Kanat explains. “I like to get to know them when they are young. We see what each horse is good at and we bring that into the act.”

Kanat and Tatiana each hail from multi-generational circus families and began performing at a young age.

Tatiana grew up in a Russian circus family and traveled and performed with them. A professionally trained gymnast from ages five to 14, she joined the Moscow State Circus School at a young age. Tatiana advanced quickly through her courses and became an acrobatic flyer. At 16 years old, she began her studies at The University of Professional Sport and Culture.

Kanat grew up in a second-generation circus family. His father was a professional acrobat. Kanat notes, “We had horses, and I was riding a horse at age two.” Like Tatiana, Kanat also studied at The University of Professional Sport and Culture. Afterwards, he toured across Europe as a rider and performed at the prestigious Moscow State circus.

While performing at Kazakhstan Circus in 1990, Kanat and Tatiana met and fell in love. The following year, they were asked to join Ringling Bros.® as part of the Cossack Act, with Tatiana as an acrobat and Kanat as a rider.

In 1997, the husband-and-wife pair decided to create their own Cossack Act. During that time, Kanat trained Tatiana. When Kanat’s mother eventually retired from the act, Tatiana filled that role.

For the last 10 years, Kanat and Tatiana toured across America with their incredible Cossack Act. Now a part of The Greatest Show On Earth® performing a never-before-seen Cossack Act, the pair admits they feel the most at home with Ringling Bros.

For this brand-new, mesmerizing Cossack presentation, Kanat and Tatiana lead their troupe through mind-boggling maneuvers — including the five-man pyramid; the dead-man drag; and the seemingly impossible double underbelly climb, in which a rider climbs under and back over a horse while the horse is at a full-speed gallop.

Kanat and Tatiana travel with their family, which includes two daughters Angelica and Veranica. And just like Kanat at age two, his youngest daughter, Veranica, is on a horse. “She has horse in her blood. As soon as she’s on that horse, her instincts kick in, she moves with the horse. It’s something that can’t be taught,” Kanat adds. For mom Tatiana, traveling with her children is the greatest thing about being a performer. “We get to spend time together. My kids are getting a quality education, both on and off of the circus. We get to see national parks and museums. We see things that even average American people don’t always get a chance to visit,” she says.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Blue Unit Circus Train Underway along the Pacific Coast at San Onofre, California.

Aug. 11, 2014, 3:43 pm,   San Onofre Creek Bridge, California 

The RBBB Circus Train Blue Unit is the longest private train in the world with 61 cars (during this sighting).  The train on this day began with 4 animal cars, 36 coaches, 2 container cars, and 19 flatcars.  There was a problem with a "
flatcar, third from the end" earlier in this trip north of San Diego and I do not know if it was set off or not. 

Thanks to Chris Guenzler for directing me to this spot to shoot the train with the Pacific Ocean, San Onofre Beach, and the San Onofre Power Plant in the background.  The bridge in this video allows lifeguard and pedestrian traffic under the bridge to reach the beach.  The temperature was 80 degrees with a nice WNW breeze at 7 mph.  There were some high clouds providing muted light for photography.