Yes, Northshore Mall shoppers, that really is an honest-to-goodness circus tent sitting in the mall parking lot, not an optical illusion. The Big Apple Circus has come to Peabody and shows will be held in the 63-foot-tall tent through May 5.
It wasn’t too long ago when the media wrote the obituary for circuses with animal rights advocates and critics of our mobile device-obsessed society glumly relegating the Big Top to yesteryear.
Big Apple, Northshore Mall and its corporate owner, Simon, and the city of Peabody are proving the critics wrong. The fun and thrills that brought generations to the circus to laugh and gawk in wonder haven’t lost any of their luster and attraction.
The circus was once a major community event in cities like Lynn. Dawn had hardly broken when kids jumped out of bed and raced down to a railroad siding to see the circus train puff and huff into town.
By late morning, crowds packed Lynn’s Federal Square to watch a procession of performers, elephants and all manners of the exotic and entertaining make their way to the fairgrounds.
The afternoon and early evening offered opportunities for the curious to watch roustabouts wrestle tent poles into position and wonder in amazement at how a small mobile city could transform in a matter of hours into an entertainment center.
The circus reigned supreme as an entertainment attraction in an age preceding television when going to the movies meant a big night or afternoon out. Its arrival had the power to galvanize a small community’s attention for a few days. Even jaded city folks found time to take their kids to see trapeze artists, clowns and elephants.
There aren’t many Americans who are too old to remember the circuses of their youth. Even for kids steeped in television, the Internet and video games, the circus offers live performances and fun that cannot be replaced by machines.
Peabody already has a reputation with its Main Streets program and various ethnic festivals for bringing together people in public places for fun, food, music and celebration of community.
Northshore Mall and Simon stress a community-oriented approach to business by welcome walkers into the mall and stepping up for any events intended to enhance the community.
Peabody residents are fortunate to have civic leaders and business executives come together to bring the circus to town and draw residents to a form of entertainment that is fun and straightforward in its ability to bring people together.