Last night, the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus rolled into Washington, DC. Every year, to celebrate this joyous entertainment occasion, the circus elephants, as well as some other animals and people, parade through the streets of downtown DC in what is called the “Pachyderm Parade.” Being the type of person that I am, I knew that I shouldn’t miss the opportunity to watch giant Pachyderms march their way from Capitol Hill to the Verizon Center in Chinatown. Who wouldn’t want to see elephants marching on the Hill? (Besides Democrats–get it? Elephants marching on the Hill? OK, sorry for that.)
A girlfriend and I decided to start the night by having a couple of drinks and grabbing a bite before we hoofed off to see the big mammals and side-shows acts. We started at one of our favorite happy hour spots, Poste, which is in the historic Hotel Monaco that I’ve written about before, and then moved on to have one final drink at the Capital Grille on Pennsylvania Avenue. My girlfriend had never been to the Capital Grille before last night, but it is one of my all-time favorites. Even though it is a chain, it is a damn good one. In fact, the DC Capital Grille is definitely my favorite of all the Cap Grilles that I’ve been to. But I digress.
We caught the parade with perfect timing right as the elephants were crossing Pennsylvania Avenue on 3rd Street. We were lucky that the crowd wasn’t too big at that spot, but then again, it was about 9pm on a Tuesday night. People in DC do tend to turn in early and take themselves too seriously. (Geez, sorry for all this commentary today. I’m feeling feisty!) We ended up following the parade all the way to the Verizon Center, walking alongside the Fresh 94.7 radio station car with the great “today’s hits” music blasting from large speakers. After our four glasses of wine earlier in the night, watching elephants march through the streets that are typically lined with suits, briefcases, and BlackBerrys, and dancing alongside circus performers is about as good as it gets. Agree?
I’m not sure that I’ll get the chance to watch the elephant parade again, so in my mind, this was a pretty historic event. Like I’ve said, and I’m sure you’ve been thinking, it’s not every night that large Pachyderms roam the streets of the Capital of the United States of America.
Of course, you can’t have an event with live performing animals without PETA, or some kind of protesting against the confinement of these gorgeous, intelligent creatures. (In fact, you can’t do anything in DC without protesters. Geez, AGAIN! Sorry…) Honestly, I agree with these guys. It pains me to see animals in captivity, especially circus animals and marine mammals at Sea World and other aquatic parks. The Zoo is a different story, because most Zoo animals have large enclosures (in the US), and they are fed and taken care of properly, and the kicker is that most are not required to perform. I guess that is where my issue is; requiring these animals to do silly things to entertain people, with punishment if their performance is not up to a certain standard. However, as long as the animals are taken care of according to their needs, and the people who handle them are well-trained, compassionate people, then I feel at ease with the animals being in human care.
Watching the “circus come to town” made me think about how much this event has not changed over the years. Last night, I thought about books/movies such as Water for Elephants and Something Wicked this Way Comes, and the countless other movies, TV shows, and books that have described the moment when a circus or carnival arrives in a town. People come out in droves to see the performing animals, clowns, and other side-show acts. It’s quite the spectacle! That special moment when the circus showed up in those stories was not unlike what I witnessed last night. Nothing has changed about the excitement of the circus coming to town. Maybe you can follow the parade on Twitter now (@DCElephantWalk), and the music is played out of speakers on an SUV as opposed to a live band, but the people of the town are still there to see performing elephants, silly clowns, and magical side-shows, which together are collectively known as…the good ol circus.