Every family has those special “things” they do together.

As a kid, my family would do things like watch The Dukes of Hazzard and wrestle with my dad in the living room. Until that time I accidentally scratched Dad’s cornea with my fingernail (I considered nail trimming to be a form of torture) during a Dukes wrestling session. Then my dad had to wear a cool “arrrr matey” eye patch, and our wrestling days were over.

I think one of the cooler aspects of parenthood is getting to choose which special events, occasions, and traditions your own family will adopt. One of our favorites is going to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus when it comes to town — usually in the springtime here in Cincinnati.

It all started because the folks at Ringling gave me some free tickets to attend the show–and promote it to readers of this blog, natch. That first year, our daughter Cassie was not quite 3 yet. Hubs and I had never been to the circus as kids, probably because my parents figured why pay for the circus when you’ve got Dukes of Hazzard and family-style wrestling for free? And Hubs is from Smallville, so I guess the circus skipped them.

Anywho, all three of us were overwhelmed, delighted, dazzled, spectacularized by what we saw. We ate too much cotton candy, got whiplash from turning our heads so much (I can’t even count how many “rings” have crazy stuff going on inside them at once), and loved every minute.

Year 2, baby James stayed home with Grandma while the three of us went back for more excitement.

This year, we’re all going together! Our first circus as the full Jackson Four. Here’s what we have in store at Ringling Bros.® Fully Charged, according to the press release:

  • Tabayara, a dynamic animal trainer whose rare ability to communicate with animals allows him to ride rearing stallions at a fully-charged gallop and orchestrate majestic four-ton Asian elephants in a symphony of dance.
  • The fearless Fernandez Brothers dial up the thrills as they perform daring feats of athleticism on the Twin Turbines of Steel, including extreme jumps and twists inside the moving wheels.
  • Guillermo performing a 360-degree, flying-forward somersault, three stories in the air, a feat so difficult it has only been attempted by one other person in the 141-year history of Ringling Bros.
  • The Human Fuse, Brian Miser, sets the arena sky ablaze as he rockets through the air from his self-made human crossbow.
  • The hilarious hoopla continues to flow as the clowns from the world-famous Ringling Bros.® Clown Alley, charge up the audiences’ funny bones with hysterical silly antics and clownish comedy.

I’m really looking forward to this special family time — though I confess I’ll be more interested in seeing the expressions on my kids’ faces than whatever might be happening on the arena floor.

Want to start a circus tradition on your family? Check out the tour schedule/map to see when Ringling’s headed to your neck of the woods. And my thanks to Ringling for providing me with free tickets again this year!