INDIANAPOLIS — If you see an elephant in the left turn lane this Thursday, don’t be alarmed. He’s supposed to be here.
He’s coming with the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Greatest Show on Earth, in town from Nov. 29 through Dec. 2. The event will kick off with a parade that traditionally ushers in the circus as performers and elephants will be making their way from Bankers Life Fieldhouse to Monument Circle starting at 11:45 a.m.
Sessions for the show are 7 p.m. Nov. 29 and 30; 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. Dec. 1; and 1 and 5 p.m. Dec. 2.
Regarding the parade on Nov. 29, Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey are partnering with the Indiana National Guard and Operation Christmas Care where patrons can bring a new unwrapped toy or teen clothing valued at more than $10 and receive a free ticket to opening night.
“We know that military personnel overseas that come back home and their needs have grown significantly from coming over and not having the financial means to have a nice Christmas with their family,” said Lisa Finch, Ringling Bros. publicist.
Finch said the goal was to make it a dual giving event, where those who might not otherwise get a chance to see the show can bring an item and get a free ticket. The community drop off time for the new clothes and toys is from noon to 6 p.m.
This is the third such year for the event to occur in December. The parade will start north on Delaware Street from the Fieldhouse and then go west on Market Street, around Monument Circle, and continue back south on Pennsylvania Avenue.
“Traditionally, when Ringling Bros. comes to Indianapolis, we like to parade the elephant to Monument Circle for a special event,” Finch said. “t helps in announcing that the Greatest Show on Earth has arrived.”
She noted that the elephants react to the temperatures much like humans, and that 40 degrees and sunny is something they would enjoy. She also said it gives them exercise outdoors, which they also enjoy.
This year’s show is called DRAGONS, honoring the once-in-a-millennium event, the Year of the Dragon. Performers are coming from the farthest reaches of the globe to participate, and world renowned ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson will also return to the tour.
“It’s a unique opportunity to see something that you’ve never seen,” Finch said. “I’ve never seen dragons and I don’t think anyone in this life span has. (Iverson) is iconic in the circus world as one of the top ring masters. He was once one of Barbara Walters’ 100 most interesting people in the world. He had a stint with Ringling Bros. for several years, and then he left and went off and started his family. Now he’s back as a ringmaster, along with his wife, who is a line captain. He really carries the entire show along with the animal acts.”
Other popular acts will include the Shaolin Kung Fu Warriors, charging Cossack riders, Asian elephants, tigers, and the frenzied Globe of Steel, an eight motorcycle act in a large steel bubble of sorts.
Just the facts
WHAT: Greatest Show on Earth
WHEN: Nov. 29 through Dec. 2
WHERE: Bankers Life Fieldhouse