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Circus provides indoor fun on chilly day

April 14, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

The overcast weather on Saturday "chilled" Christine and David Rhodes' plans to help their son, Chance, celebrate his 4th birthday today.

"We were going to have an outdoor birthday party. The weather kind of chilled that idea. So we were like 'What can we do?'" Christine Rhodes said as her husband and son traveled around a small ring atop Duchess, a 42-year-old elephant at the 52nd Ali Ghan Shrine Circus.

"This was perfect," said Rhodes, a teacher at Springfield Middle School in Williamsport.

"I have a feeling everyone at (his day care) is going about it ... over and over," Rhodes said as she captured her son's adventure on a digital camera.

"My husband gets to do this kind of stuff and I just take pictures," said Rhodes, indicating her lack of interest in boarding the lumbering Asian elephant.

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Proceeds from the shows held Saturday at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center will be used for maintenance and operation of the Shriners temple in Cumberland, Md., said R. Francis "Fran" Shives, the current leader of the organization.

"The community here in Hagerstown and the area have really supported us over the years," Shives said at intermission of the first show at HCC. "They've been great."

Though net proceeds are minimal, Shives said the circus shows afford an opportunity for the Shriners to communicate their mission to help children in need, particularly with medical conditions that require special attention.

Dressed in a clown outfit, Shriner Harold Kisner of Aurora, W.Va., said he wouldn't miss the opportunity to provide a bit of entertainment alongside the circus production of the George Hubler International 3 Ring Super Circus. Hubler is a life member of the Shriners' Antioch temple in Dayton, Ohio.

"The kids are fabulous," Kisner said. "To see the expression on their faces, it makes it all worthwhile."

Kisner noted the Shriners recently were able to help a child with burns on more than 40 percent of the youngster's body, but the family had no insurance.

Shives said the Shriners' philanthropic effort is simple: "We just want to help kids - period."

The Western Maryland temple in Cumberland has about 1,150 members, Shives said.

Two more shows are scheduled for today at Frostburg (Md.) State University.

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