Ringling Bros. welcomes first female ringmaster

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Ringling Bros. circus elephants during a May 2009 show (Photo: Laura Bittner)

ORLANDO, Fla. — In a first for the Ringling Brothers circus, a woman is about to step onto the floor and shatter the ceiling.

The show is older than Major League Baseball, but there have been more U.S. presidents than there have been Ringling Brothers ringmasters. That’s why it’s a big deal that the new master is a woman.

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Kristen Michelle Wilson out-performed hundreds of candidates for the top spot under the big top.

“It’s a huge deal,” she said. “I am the very first female ringmaster in 146 years.”

On Thursday night, the Florida native will lead 110 performers with 49 animals, guiding the audience through high-flying acts and death-defying stunts.

“The more that I’ve held onto the title and I’ve talked to women, and I’ve talked to my grandmother, and her reaction, it really lets me understand the responsibility of being the first and it makes me want to be loud and proud and hold the banner high.”

Get the full story at CBSNews.com.