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The Elephants Come to Town

In NYC History, NYC Today on March 23, 2010 at 11:53 pm

As a photographer, I look for new ways to document New York City life.  To discover moments that may be overlooked as we hurry along with our days; to share the unexpected.  Tonight was one of those occasions.

A year ago in March there was a news story that intrigued me.  Every year, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey marches their elephants through the city streets when the circus comes to town.  Since elephants don’t usually wander around Manhattan, I knew this was a spectacle that needed to be photographed.  Planning a year out, I put this on my calendar to get the details.  In February I contacted customer service. They told me “The elephant walk is scheduled for Monday, March 22 @ 11:59 PM”.

I tried to gather information from past events, but very little existed.  The Mommy Poppins Blog had a possible explanation/origin of this walk:  “the circus elephants can’t go up the Penn Station escalators, they need to get off the circus train a stop early in Queens and walk through the Mid-Town Tunnel, and straight across Manhattan to Madison Square Garden”.

So based on this information (or lack thereof) I envisioned a slow moving, large animal procession that would last at least 30 minutes.  I prepared my two camera’s and waited on 34th Street near the tunnel exit.

It was a rainy night, so from time to time a downpour would break up the waiting/anticipation.  There were a few people in the crowd that had contacts on the Queens side and were giving status reports of the elephant progression through the tunnel.

About 1:00am the Elephants Came to Town!  There were 6 baby elephants with their handlers that moved like horses trotting down the lane.  It took me a moment to realize that what I expected to happen and what actually happened were two very different things.   The shot I was dreaming about, planning for days was not going to happen!

The elephants were followed by a group of small circus ponies and then some bicycle riding clowns.  POOF! it was over.  In less than 5 minutes the circus passed me by…

Aside from the long wait in the rain, it was a great experience.  Next year I will know better, and be ready for those quick moving pachyderms.

Until next time!

Teresa, 51art

adventure is life, live it! ®

March 17, 2011:  Due to construction at MSG, the circus will not be in NYC this year.

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  1. […] night, the night the elephants came to town.  You saw what I was able to capture digitally in The Elephants Come to Town (part 1).  I won’t lie to you, I was disappointed with what I was able to capture.  But was […]

  2. […] About a year ago I decided to photograph the Circus Elephants when they walked into town.  The night they were to take their walk was cold and rainy.  Ignoring the weather, I headed to 34th street with my camera/s to experience this spectacle firsthand. […]

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