The Hartford Circus Fire - July 6, 1944

Illustration by Mik Augustin
Contact Mik Augustin at

In Hartford, CT., between 167 and 169 died when a circus tent, waterproofed with a flammable combination of paraffin wax and gasoline caught fire. The cause of the fire was never determined. Some theories suggest arson as a possibility.


Last of the Bigtops- Elizabeth McKim

"Last of the Bigtops" is a poem written by acclaimed jazz performance poet Elizabeth McKim recalling her experience as a survivor of the Hartford Circus Fire as a young child. For more of her poetry or for her performance schedule, she can be contacted at

Recording Info:
Elizabeth McKim - Performance of poem
Jon Waterman - Guitar


Under the Big Top- Jon Waterman
(See also The Cocoanut Grove Fire and The Station Nightclub Fire

There's a big top up in heaven
And underneath that tent
Is the greatest show- not just on earth
But in all the firmament
A celestial grand attraction
Where a host of angels go
Up under the big top in heaven
At the Firemen's benefit show

Now under that big top in heaven
The angels go to find
The enjoyment and amusements of
The world they left behind
There's a three ring circus, a rock and roll stage
And a lounge where the lights are low
All under the big top in heaven
At the Firemen's benefit show

And the couples from the Cocoanut Grove
Still dance upon the floor
And the children from the Hartford Circus cheer
As they hear the big cats roar
And thereís a band that plays
While the Station Nightclub crowd sways to and fro
Up under that bigtop in heaven
Where all those angels go

And the entertainment never ends
And the doors are never locked
The hallways always are clearly lit
And the exits are never blocked
And a million stars in the midnight sky
Are pyrotechnics aglow
Up under the big top in heaven above
At the Firemenís Benefit Show
©2011 Jon Waterman

Recording Info:
Jon Waterman- Vocal, Acoustic, 12 String and Electric Guitars
Dan Kupka- Accordion
Garth Retallach- Baritone Horn
Jeff Root- Bass
Jeff Pearlstein- Drums

For reprise version:
Jon Waterman- Vocal and Guitar
Mark Muzerol- Piano
Garth Retallack- Baritone Horn


Back to Top

Back to Disaster Song Project

Back to Jon Waterman Homepage