special report

Circus collectors sad about Ringling Brothers ending this weekend

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SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. -- Pete Adams’ Sarasota living room is decorated with circus memorabilia. There’s a wagon wheel in the front vestibule, a signed portrait of Red Skelton on the wall, and circus dolls across the top of the TV console.

But Pete’s garage is filled with nearly 20,000 posters, hats, and binders of pictures. As for Pete, he’s from Maryland.  He says when he was 11, an annual tradition began with his family.

"When I was a kid my parents took me on my birthday in November to the Shrine Circus each year," Adams said.

Fast forward 50 years-- and when it was time to retire, Pete and his wife knew they had to come to Sarasota.

"When I retired, I decided we wanted to be close to the circus," he recalls.

Pete says since they arrived in 2003 with a 39 foot U-Haul trailer, his collection has taken off—including 5 thousand posters.

As you walk through his collection, you may realize Ringling Brothers is not the world's only circus--and even though Sunday marks the end of Ringling Brothers, circuses will go on.

"My personal opinion on the demise of Ringling: Other people will step up. Just like somebody stepped up to repurchase the Big Apple Circus in New York," Adams said.

But Adams is disappointed at Kenneth Feld Junior of Manatee County, owners of the Ringling Brothers Circus, for pulling the plug on Ringling.

"I was disappointed. If his Dad was still alive, he’d be very disappointed in his family. I truly believe they made their money to buy the operations they have today based upon what they made originally from the circus," Adams said.

Another collector we spoke in Wisconsin understands the decision. Richard Bennett recently auctioned off dozens of items from Ida B. Ringling's personal collection.  Even though he’s a huge Ringling fan, he says he understands kids aren’t involved in circuses since they can see everything at home on their computer.