BIRMINGHAM — The circus is coming to town again, and Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey is putting a little local twist on its traditional animal walk that starts off their performances in a city.
Ringling Bros. traditional march begins Wednesday morning at the CSX Transportation railroad yard entrance near Vanderbilt Road in north Birmingham, and will proceed down to Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. toward the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center. Areas near the rail yard itself aren't the best for viewing, so circus promoters advise watching along Arrington between 22nd and 24th streets.
The parade of animals will make a special stop in front of the Southeastern Conference headquarters near the civic center, and Asia — the lead elephant in the parade — is scheduled to be wearing "something special" to honor the SEC and the Alabama Crimson Tide's second straight BCS National Championship. The circus won't say just what the surprise is, except that it will be instantly recognizable.
The parade is scheduled to start between 8 and 10 a.m. Wednesday, but that time may vary because of railroad schedules.
Ringling Bros. is the largest circus in North America, and the only one which still travels mainly by train. The parades which open performance runs in each city date back to the days then rail travel was still the primary way to travel from place to place.
The circus will stage six performances at the BJCC from Thursday through Sunday, with matinees on the weekend. Tickets are available online or at the box office.