Circus is fundraiser

Elephants, aerial act and more to entertain audiences

Elephants, aerial act and more to entertain audiences

April 12, 2007|by JULIE E. GREENE

The Ali Ghan Shriners Circus is coming back to town and is bringing elephants, costumed poodles, magical illusions and audience participation.

The Shriners have sponsored the circus in Hagerstown for about 50 years, though not all consecutive, as a fundraiser for the Shriners, who have 22 hospitals for children in North America, said Hancock resident Fran Shives, potentate for the Ali Ghan Shriners.

The money raised from the circus helps with maintenance and operating costs for the temple in Cumberland, Md., freeing members of the fraternal philanthropic group to spend time raising money for the hospital side, Shives said. The Shriners district, which extends from Garrett to Frederick counties in Maryland, has about 1,150 members who live in the Tri-State area.

The Shriners are bringing back to Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center the George Hubler International Circus, based in Dayton, Ohio, for two shows this Saturday.


Hubler said he hires different acts throughout the year, producing as many as 35 different circuses a year.

Returning from last year's Hagerstown show will be Timothy Noel Tegge. Last year Tegge served as clown and ringmaster, while this year he is expected to be just the ringmaster.

The other acts are new, including Tegge's wife, Barbara Van Voorden, who juggles with her feet.

Brett Carden will work with three Asian elephants who will do choreographed moves such as standing on their hind legs.

There will be two acts involving dogs.

The Elkin Sisters, who were in Hagerstown about four or five years ago, will work with costumed poodles who do choreographed moves. A performance by long-haired Afghans, sacred hunting hounds in Afghanistan, will include long jumps, Hubler said.

The circus also will have a hula hoop act, a clown on a unicycle and an aerial act with Asia Woodman doing ballet as she spins down long ropes of silk hanging from a crane, Hubler said.

In 2006, the four regional shows - two at HCC and two at Frostburg State University - raised $6,000 to $7,000 for the Shriners' basic operational costs, Shives said.

That same year the Ali Ghan Shriners provided 191 trips to take patients, who are younger than 18 when admitted, to Shriners hospitals, Shives said. Members pick up the patient at home, pay for transportation tolls, meals and motels if the family needs to spend the night. The child's surgery, consultations and therapy also are paid for by the Shriners.

To find out about other Shriners' fundraisers throughout the year, go to

The Shriners also will be giving away children's bicycles.

People who buy a circus program book for $2 get a chance to win one of 10 children's bikes at the Hagerstown shows and eight bikes at the Frostburg shows, Shives said. The bikes were donated by corporate sponsors and Shriners members. Each bike comes with a helmet thanks to David Litten, owner of Maugansville Creamery, Shives said.

If you go ...

WHAT: Ali Ghan Shriners Circus

WHEN: 1:30 and 5:30 p.m. Saturday, April 14

WHERE: Athletic, Recreation and Community Center (ARCC); Hagers-town Community College; Robinwood Drive east of Hagerstown

COST: Adult tickets cost $6 in advance and $8 at the door. Free for ages 12 and younger.

MORE: For tickets, call 301-722-5970 or 301-733-6148. The Ali Ghan Shriners Circus also will have two shows at Frostburg State University's gym in Frostburg, Md., at 1:30 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, April 15.

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