RBBB first came to Atlanta in 1919 at the Ponce de Leon baseball park. By 1924, it had moved to the Highland Avenue grounds (currently occupied by Inman Park Village) where it remained for 20 years.
According to Rhone's reporting: "In Atlanta, the show last played outdoors at Lakewood Park in 1955. Atlanta didn't have an arena large enough to accommodate the circus at the time, so in 1958 to 1960, the circus came to Ponce de Leon baseball park. Then it stopped coming to Atlanta altogether. It would take 13 years for the show to return with a 1973 appearance at the Omni."
This meant that Matt and his grandfather could've seen the show at the Ponce de Leon baseball park, which was nestled in the shadow of the Sears & Roebuck's division headquarters — the building that's now Ponce City Market. Or if it was before 1958, then perhaps at Lakewood Park, a section of southeast Atlanta that's now home to EUE/Screen Gems Studios.
I asked him if either of those possibilities seemed right, and he wrote back to say that it was probably Lakewood Park. He remembered that everything was wooden: the walls, the roof, the bleachers, which fits in with how he remembers Lakewood.
“That alone fascinated a 7 year old!” he said.
During RBBB's final performances in metro Atlanta early last year, RBBB did stints at Philips Arena and Duluth's Infinite Energy Arena.
If all this reminiscing has anyone wanting to experience the circus again, check out the Big Apple Circus, which is in Alpharetta through Feb. 25, or UniverSoul, which opens in the Old Turner Field Gold Parking Lot Wednesday.
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I am a staff writer with the AJC and a lover of Atlanta, my adopted home for nearly seven years after moving to Georgia from Florida. To submit “Actual Factual” questions, contact me at email@example.com, @BeccaJGGodwin on Twitter or via the form below. Thanks.
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From the Atlanta circus archives:
A zebra from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus escaped his handler and led police on a chase through downtown Atlanta Thursday afternoon. (WSB)