December 6, 2006
You can't put together the "Greatest Show on Earth" in a matter of minutes.
That's why crews from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus began set up of the 270 tons of equipment at 7 Wednesday morning.
"Because it's a one ring show, we have to get all the lights and sounds up properly before we go up, put the trusts up, so that's what takes the longest," Production Manager Jason Gibson said.
Another obstacle for workers, low-lying ceilings through the back entrance and exit, used for transporting equipment and the animals.
"We redesigned it, originally it was designed to be about 9 feet 6 inches," Leonard Sandridge, Executive Vice President of the Arena said.
But with a 12,000 pound, 10 1/2 foot elephant needing to make an entrance, arena crews redesigned the seating area, giving Luke the Asian elephant an additional 5 feet of head room.
The 22-year-old animal responds to over 60 commands, stealing the spotlight with his "trunk wave" and showing respect as he gets down on one knee.
"He'll do some pirouettes on a little pedestal and he'll have Patti Zerbini on his tusks spinning and it's just a beautiful act," Gibson said.
The show runs Thursday through Sunday and tickets are still available at the John Paul Jones Arena box office.