PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Hundreds of people flocked to the Dunkin’ Donuts center Thursday night for the return of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. It was the first time the event has been back to Providence since last spring’s accident in which eight performers were injured when a hair-hanging act went terribly wrong.
Absent from this year’s show, the human chandelier. The act was pulled after a carabiner failed last year, sending the performers plummeting 30 feet to the ground.
As a result, Ringling Bros. reached a settlement with OSHA in which several safety changes were implemented; including a safety checklist, review of acts by a professional engineer and even an annual safety day to address employee concerns.
“I think that for the first couple of hours tonight you know there will be that anticipation when you see those high-wire acts. But, that’s part of the circus and I’m confident, my staff is confident that we’re back to the old days of the performances and people leaving with smiles and not fear,” said Larry Lapore, Dunkin’ Donuts Center general manager.”
The spectators Eyewitness News spoke with said they’re hoping, with the new measures, they can enjoy the show instead of worrying about a repeat performance from last year.
“My guess is this is going to be the safest circus that anyone has ever seen see. Because before the accident is when people get complacent that these things happen. Right now, they are not going to be complacent for the next five years at least,” said Rick Swann of Riverside.
New safety measures aren’t the only changes to “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Circus promoters announced a few weeks ago that they’ll be phasing out the elephant acts by 2018.