Hartford Circus Fire
On July 6, 1944 a performance of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was under the big top in Hartford, Connecticut. It’s estimated that 6,000 to 8,000 people were in attendance that day. There were two performances that day- one in the morning, and one in the evening. But the trains were late, so they had to cancel the morning show. In circus tradition, this is considered very bad luck. Ironically, that superstition came true when a fire started. An employee signaled the band to begin playing “Stars and Stripes Forever”, which was a secret circus code for “disaster”. The tent had one large door, and 8 smaller exits. However, many of the alternative exits were blocked by wagons, big cat cages, and other large objects. It’s estimated that 168 people passed, and 700 were injured from burns or being crushed in the stampede.