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Circus offers family-style entertainment

April 01, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

The Shriners of Ali Ghan Temple will continue a 50-year tradition under the Big Top this weekend when the fraternal organization sponsors its annual family circus.

The Shriners will bring the Royal Hanneford Circus to Hagerstown on Saturday, April 3, and to Frostburg, Md., on Sunday, April 4.

"In our society today, we're concerned about sex and violence and all these mature subjects. Here's a chance to come out for good, family-style entertainment," said Allen Shirk, chairman of the circus for the Shriners. "It just creates a memory that lasts a lifetime."

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Kids of all ages can enjoy such traditional circus fare as parading elephants, dancing horses, high wire and trapeze acts, clowns and illusionists at 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center. Show times are the same for the Sunday circus at Frostburg State University.

Shriners - including members of the Hagerstown Shrine Club and Frederick, Md.-based Keystone Kopps - will help work the event, Shirk said. To keep costs reasonable for families, Shriners also have taken over the sale of such concessions as cotton candy and snow cones and novelty items like lighted swords, balloons and stuffed animals, he said.

And all circus-goers who purchase a $1 program will be eligible to win one of six children's bicycles donated by Shriners, Shirk said.

Through corporate sponsorships and individual Shriners' donations, the organization is able to give free tickets to individuals with physical and mental disabilities and financial need. Shriners recently gave more than 100 free tickets to such area organizations as Arc of Washington County and the Potomac Center in Hagerstown, the San Mar Children's Home in Boonsboro, the Thomas B. Finan Center in Cumberland, Md., and the West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind in Romney, Shirk said.

The Cumberland-based Ali Ghan Shrine includes more than 1,100 members from Allegany, Garrett, Washington and Frederick counties in Maryland and the neighboring areas of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The annual Shriners circus raises funds for facilities maintenance and various activities throughout the year.

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