Circus comes to town

April 04, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

HAGERSTOWN - At 4 years old and weighing 43 pounds, Cody Michael said he wasn't scared when he rode the 8,500-pound elephant Saturday night at the Royal Hanneford Circus at Hagerstown Community College.

"Good" and "fun" were how the Hagerstown boy described the ride. Upon disembarking the powerful pachyderm, Cody began waving his hand in front of his face in an attempt to wave off the accompanying smell.

The Ali Ghan Shriners sponsored the circus to raise money for the Temple, circus chairman Allen Shirk said. The event allows Ali Ghan members to use money from other fund-raisers to run the 22 Shriners Hospitals for children, he said.


The circus held two shows Saturday in HCC's Athletic Recreation and Community Center that featured elephants, horses, camels, dogs, clowns and a variety of acrobatic acts, Shirk said. There appeared to be more than 800 people at the second show.

At the beginning of the shows and during intermission, there were elephant and pony rides.

"Fun" and "bumpy" were how Finn Shamieh, 6, of Jefferson, Md., described his elephant ride with his father and several other people.

"It's definitely a shock when something that big takes off," said Greg Shamieh, who rode an elephant about six years ago with his older son. Riders can feel the elephant's spine and bones moving beneath them, he said.

Madajah Rideout, who is almost 3, was going to take a ride on the elephant until she got spooked by the children coming down the steps after getting off the mighty mammal, said her mother, Tasha Jacobs, of Hagerstown.

"I want to ride the ponies," Madajah said.

Jacobs said she was afraid to go to the circus when she was a child because she didn't like big animals, but found she actually liked the circus Saturday night.

Hagerstown resident Jaxson Schultz, who will turn 2 in May, told his father he was enjoying his first circus as well.

Hollis Zimmerman, 6, of Hagerstown, enjoyed the acrobats the most during the show's first half. His favorite act was the Dresner Brothers. The grown men, wearing lavender and green suits, dove over a table and each other while both diving over the table.

Hollis' brother Austin, 13, said the archery act was his favorite. Austin said the archer probably could see through the black hood pulled over his face when he fired an arrow at a balloon above a woman's head.

Their father, Kurt, 37, said he was impressed with how the woman directed the archer to aim the shot.

Shawn Fogle, 19, of Waynesboro, Pa., became part of one of the acts when he was invited to one of the side rings to try rapidly swinging ropes that each had a plastic ball on the end.

After he tangled the ropes, Fogle was asked to stay and hold a stick in his mouth so one of the acrobats could knock it out with one of those ropes.

When he discovered it was a young boy that was going to perform the act, Fogle said he was a little nervous.

"But he was good at what he was doing," Fogle said.

Connie Bonenberger, 48, of Hagerstown, and her sister-in-law, Sally Lefferts, 56, of Smithsburg, both enjoyed the horses.

"I like the way they stood up on their hind feet," Bonenberger said.

Lefferts' grandson, Tommy, 12, was more impressed with the female acrobats wearing pink bikinis who climbed ropes about 18 feet into the air and dangled from their wrists or ankles while spinning around the ropes.

"I like the girls," Tommy said.

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