Ringling Bros. circus packs up its tent after 146 years

After 146 years of dazzling crowds all over the world, the final performance for the famed circus was held at the Nassau Coliseum.

It's an institution that goes back to the 1800's - to the days of PT Barnum, and on Sunday, after nearly a century and half, the Ringling Brothers Circus packed up its tent.

For the last time in the show's 146 year history, the sun is set on the Ringling Brothers Circus with a final send off from the CEO.

“Let’s celebrate the Greatest Show on Earth for the last time,” he said.

Facing steep declines in ticket sales and nasty fights with animal rights activists, the now elephant-less traveling circus played its final act to a sold out crowd at the Nassau Coliseum

For those performing, it's a bittersweet chance to reflect on the impact the American icon has had.

“We are the bedrock of American pop culture, we have influenced a tremendous amount in society, we've added to the vernacular, hold your horses, throw your hat in the ring, the show must go on, jumble, that's all of us,” said Ringmaster Jonathan Lee Iverson.

Outside the final show, a small group of protestors on hand, happy show will no longer go on.

Like countless ones before them, children of all ages excited for the show.

For Rosemary Sylvester and Muriel Skeet, who used to perform in the show and live on that famous big train, mixed emotions come about.

They skipped tonight's final performance because they knew they'd just be crying the whole time.

It’s just been an experience that I will never ever forget. When they say the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’, it truly was the greatest show on earth.

Not the end of all circuses

Ringling's absence leaves about 23 circuses on the road, of various size and format, in the United States today.

As for the circus animals, a spokesperson said they will have new homes- nearly 80 of them have been placed in different homes around the country. 

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