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Ali Ghan circus features singing pig, miniature horses

April 10, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

Archery, feats of agility and other acts - including performing pigs - were among the highlights Saturday afternoon during the Ali Ghan Shrine Circus at the Hagerstown Community College Athletic Recreation and Community Center.

The circus was held for the 52nd straight year in Hagerstown, according to Allen Shirk, past potentate and circus chairman of Ali Ghan Shriners.

During the circus' intermission, children could have their faces painted, ride a pony, slide down a large inflatable slide or have their pictures taken with "Oink, The Singing Pig."

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Alex, 6, and Zach Albright, 2, seemed to be getting as much enjoyment from their plastic blue trumpets as they had from the first set of acts.

Taking a break from blowing his horn, Alex said his favorite performance had been "the pig singing. Because I never knew a pig could sing."

The boys' father, Bill Albright, said he especially was impressed with 7-year-old Miss Mercedes, who twirled a number of hula hoops that collectively looked to weigh as much as or more than she did.

Miss Mercedes also stood astride a pair of trotting miniature horses.

Haley Zomak, 8, had a different favorite.

"When they were on the balls," she said.

Why?

"Because, I don't know," she said, shyness taking over.

A trio of performers stood atop large red balls, rolling them with their feet. They rolled up a U-shaped ramp and then, even more impressively, down the ramp backward.

Their first attempt ended with one performer falling off her ball and onto the floor several feet below.

Although she clutched her ankle and appeared to be injured, she quickly hopped back onto the ball and rolled all the way up and down the ramp.

That caught the attention of Haley's mother, Tiaa Zomak.

"That took a lot of courage and determination and strength," she said of the performance in general, and additional gumption for the injured girl to finish the stunt.

Shirk said Saturday's show was the first without exotic animals, partly because of animal rights groups.

This year, the only way to see an elephant or a white tiger up close was to buy an inflatable toy version.

Shirk said the show is geared toward families and is a chance "to give old-fashioned values to the community."

Children, he said, will remember a circus forever.

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