While injured acrobats recover, circus goes on in Hartford

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP/WTNH) — The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has opened an eight-show run in Connecticut, while seven acrobats remain in a Rhode Island hospital after an accident during a performance there Sunday.

The circus runs in Hartford through the weekend. The “human chandelier” stunt, in which performers hang by their hair from a suspended apparatus, won’t be performed.

Two of the acrobats injured in the accident have been upgraded to fair condition. Two others remain in serious condition, while three have requested that information on their conditions not be released. One of the acrobats was released from the hospital.

Feld Entertainment spokesman Stephen Payne says that federal health and safety inspectors and circus officials do not have a definitive cause for the accident that sent eight acrobats plummeting to the ground. On Thursday, Payne was asked why a net is not used in the performance.

“Since this act also went up and down, we’re not entirely sure if a net would have really added any safety feature,” Payne said. “But again that’s part of our ongoing investigation.”

Meanwhile, the circus says ticket sales in Hartford have been strong as some 300 performers prepare for a run of performances that will be dedicated to those hurt in the Providence accident.

“The show will always go on,” said ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson. “It’s the Greatest Show on Earth. We’ve been doing it for 144 years.”

Still, it’s been hard on everyone who makes the show such a success, including Iverson.

“I’ve never cried or prayed for something so hard in my entire life because I adore them,” he said.

News 8’s Mark Davis contributed to this report

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