Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus In Manchester, NH, Selling Cigarettes To ‘Kids’, At Verizon Arena!

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

by Anura Guruge

marlboroRelated posts:
>> No elephant parade —
Sep. 30, 2014.

$10 tickets for opening night —
>> Sep. 26, 2014.

>> “Built to Amaze”
>>July 23, 2014.
‘Dragons’, Oct. 2013

>> — Oct. 7, 2013.
>> The circus elephants have 

>> arrived — Oct. 2, 2013.
>> Oct.  2013 circus/elephants

>> in Manchester — Sep. 29, 2013.
>> Circus will play down
>> elephant parade
 Aug. 15, 2013.
>> ‘Dragons’ circus is coming to town — July 6, 2013.

++++  Search ‘circus’, ‘cirque’ &  ‘elephants’ for the numerous
>>>>  ‘circus in town (with elephants)‘ posts.  >>>>>>

See below for UPDATE.

Yes we went to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus, at the Verizon Arena, in Manchester, N.H., as we have done every year since 2009 (or was it 2008). This time, for the first time, we went on Thursday night, i.e., opening night, though it was a school night.cigsas1a

It wasn’t packed, despite the $15 and $10 tickets — most likely because it is a school/work night.

I always buy a program and a DVD of the circus. Teischan likes to look at the program and watch the DVD — multiple times. I noticed to my delight that the prices appear to have come down; $6 for the program and $8 for the DVD. I thought they cost much more. I usually buy this merchandise at the end when we are leaving.

But there were hardly any crowds ‘outside’ during the intermission. So while the kids were eating their chicken fingers and fries I decided to buy the program and DVD — so that we could make a quick exit at the end.

We had (v. good) seats in section 102 and there is a big merchandise stall right at the entrance to that section. So I headed for that. Just one person inline.

It was a ‘kid’ in a red golf shirt. Not sure of his exact age BUT he was young — meaning he was NOT an adult.

There was just one lady working the stall. I think she was Latin American. I might have seen her, at the Arena, before — maybe last year with the circus.

This ‘boy’ asked her something and she proceeded to get ‘it’. Then this ‘boy’ did something really weird which I could not but help notice. He started to TWIRL — yes, spin around in circles. He seemed very excited, agitated and on edge. The lady came back carry a zippered travel bag — like a small travel bag you would have, flung over your shoulder, when taking a flight. I saw what looked like VCR cases inside. Got me intrigued. I thought that they must be some special, limited-edition DVDs — in fancy box packaging. I was interested. Maybe I should get one of these, if the price was right, as opposed to the $8, just in a paper case, DVD.

What happened next shocked me. It was just so incongruous. She pulled out two packets of Marlboro cigarettes and gave it to the boy. He gave her a bill. I didn’t look to see how much. Not sure whether he got any change. I don’t think. I was shocked.

Never seen anything like. Something told me that it was NOT RIGHT on multiple levels. Even if the ‘kid’ was old enough, and I really can’t vouch for his age, it seemed ODD that they would be selling cigarettes at a Barnum & Bailey merchandise stall. Now, just at this point, I was only one there. But there could easily have been kids.

I am sure that you can’t smoke anywhere within the arena. So, would they then sell  cigarettes inside. I could even understand IF they sold them at the food counter. But this was the stall that sells TOYS.

So I asked her. She looked at me real sheepishly and one of her shoulders sagged and she said, softly, ‘YES’. I left it at that. I bought my program and DVD for $14 and paid by credit card.

Then as I was walking back to where the kids and Deanna were I saw a Verizon Arena security guard (and they are invariably very nice and helpful). So I stopped and asked whether what I had seen was ‘kosher’. Deanna and the kids were now listening. He seemed very surprised and said that he didn’t think that they were allowed to sell cigarettes to anyone. He said that there was nothing that he could do, right then and there, because it was a circus run stall, but that he would report it to his supervisor at once.

Deanna by now was most upset. She went and COMPLAINED to two other security guards, one male the other female. They like Deanna were not amused. They said that they will notify management immediately. We started to go back to our seats. Deanna hung around with her camera to see if she could spot another cigarette sale. The kids and I went back to our seats. Deanna missed the first 5 minutes because she wanted to keep an eye on the lady. She did not see anything untoward. As she was entering the stadium one of the security guards she had spoken to, the female, came up to her and said that management was coming down to investigate.

When we were leaving we had to walk right by the stall. She was NOT there! It could have been the end of her shift OR maybe she was removed.

Deanna is still unhappy.

I now kind of feel guilty and bad! Most likely this lady was doing it as a sideline. What intrigues me is how would people know that she was selling cigarettes? IS there some urban legend among kids that you can buy cigarettes at the merchandise tables at circuses? I don’t know. But I feel bad, being who I am, IF I got this lady into trouble. IF she was forced to sell cigarettes to make enough money to support her family — I feel bad. I feel that I got her into trouble. I would hate for her to lose her job. I just wish I knew the full story. All I know was that I was perturbed by what I saw. I kind of know I did the right thing.

I would feel much, much better IF I found out that it was indeed Barnum & Bailey that were selling the cigarettes as part of their corporate plan to boost profits. Then I would really go after them. But the poor lady, and she must have been poor IF she would take such a risk. What a world.

People paying $102 a seat to see the circus and lady selling cigarettes! 


On Friday morning I called up Feld Entertainment which owns “Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey”. There is NO “Ringling Brothers” or “Barnum & Bailey” anymore. Feld Entertainment produces the circuses using those brand names — which they own.

I called to complain about the horrendous feeding live bunny to python scene. Well the customer service rep I got, a person called Noah S. (if that is indeed his real name), was very familiar with the act and DEFENDED its appropriateness vigorously. He actually thought that it was funny that I could not see the funny side of it. Well I still don’t see the funny side to it — and this morning I did talk, finally, with the Manchester City Animal Control Officer and he said that he would go to the Arena and talk to those involved. He, however, did tell me, multiple times, that he did NOT think that they were breaking the law. It appears that pretending to feed a bunny to a python (or any other animal) is permissible as long as you don’t actually do it! Seems perverse to me. Basically we don’t subscribe that animals experience fear, anxiety or stress. Do I have to take this cause up? HELP.

Anywho …

Frustrated by his lack of interest in animal cruelty, I then decided to ‘hit him’ with the cigarette sales scenario. He went beyond being defensive. He actually became ugly and it was on a recorded line and ‘higher ups’ at FELD if they care, which I doubt, should listen to the tape as a  case study in how NOT to handle a customer.

He was interrogating me, aggressively like I had committed a crime! I guess he thought he was being clever. I hung up! I had done my duty. I had reported it.

At 5:18 pm last night I got a call. Caller ID said “Feld Entertainment”. So I answered. It was this Noah.

He was contrite. I had told him that I had blogged about the incident and he had found and read the blog post — i.e., this post. I guess that made him realize that Feld was not going to get away from this. It was already in ‘the cloud’. Yes, blogs have become the new pen.

Given that the cat was indeed out of the bag, he had called the ‘local management’ in Manchester to find out whether they knew anything about this cigarette incident.


So it would appear that us reporting it to the Verizon Arena security worked.

We are glad.

So here is the story. The lady who sold the cigarettes does work for ‘Feld Merchandising …. (something or other)‘. Yes, she is part of Feld. She travels with the circus. Feld employees can buy cigarettes from ‘her’ (and others of her ilk, I guess). It is a SERVICE provided by Feld to their employees — because they don’t have transport to go into ‘town’. Very nice. Very considerate employees. I wonder what else they sell to keep their travelling employees happy? I wonder if they have a special saloon car on the train … you know … for ‘oh la la’!

So the implication is that the ‘kid’, in the red shirt, which did not as far as I could see, say ‘crew’, ‘Feld’ or anything similar, worked for the circus.

BUT here is the point that Noah admitted. She should NOT have been selling cigarettes in the arena during the show.

According to Noah they are basically supposed to only sell cigarettes ‘on the train’.

Well I am SURE that ‘she’, and as an employee, Feld, has broken multiple City (and possibly State) ordinances and violated those of the Arena. I kind of know that there are quite a few laws and regulations that cover the sales of cigarettes.

But will anything happen? Heck NO. They will get away with it. Ideally Manchester City police, armed with this, and the fact that we have recorded phone conversations, with basically an admission of wrongdoing, should go and crack down on the circus. 

So that is the sad story.

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About Anura Guruge

See 'The Blogger' on my https://nhlifefree.com/ blog.
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