Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ringling's Venice History Closer to the Dust of a Gilded Memory

Despite the efforts of circus locals and fans, led by former trapeze great Tito Gaona, to raise money and convert the old Ringling Venice arena into yet another circus museum (of some sort), the aging structure fell a little closer to the status of a sainted memory, as witness the above unflattering photo.

Said to be a "partial demolition" in order to make way for proper up-to-current-code reconstruction, this latest setback has an eerie resemblance to Pittsbugh, PA, in 1956, when Ringling gave its last shows under canvas.  Ironically, the Venice arena was built in conjunction with the new all-indoor version of the Greatest Show on Earth, as an annual winter home,  rehearsal and premiere space.

Writes Josh Taylor, whose photo and fine report were hastened my way by cyber courier Don Covington, "Those with the Venice Circus Arts Foundation, who have worked for years to save the property, aren't throwing in the towel"

Keeping a note of optimism alive (who knows, maybe some day the millions needed to make a tenuous dream a reality may come through), the spin now turns as the world mostly turns away:

"This is not the end; it is just the beginning of our trying to save this arena and make it useful to the city."
Executive Director Orlando Bevington says a surgical removal of old rotting wood and the roof of the arena would have been done anyway.

Oh, those lingering feelings of a grand revival. It almost feels like 1956-57 all over again, when for a bitter sweet while some of us held out hope that John Ringling North would change his mind and return the Greatest Show on Earth to its rightful place, under the glorious tented city that moved by night.

Friendly warning to the good-intended dreamers of Venice.

He never did.

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