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Friday, May 20, 2011

Shrine Circus coming to Blue Line this weekend


The Shrine Circus is coming to town this weekend, and bringing along Bo, a 6.5-ton elephant. Submitted photo

May. 19, 2011

It’s Shrine Circus time in Sheboygan.

The circus, which has been operating since 1906, rolls into town Saturday and Sunday with four shows at the Blue Line Ice Center.

It’s hosted by the Tripoli Shrine.Performances are scheduled at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, and at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday.

“The Shrine Circus is pulling out all the stops this year,” said George Carden, the event’s producer, in a press release. “Not only do we have the best acts to perform in Sheboygan, but we’ve added new performances never seen in North America before.” Adult tickets are $16, and for children, $12. Carden said there are “buy one, get one” ticket coupons, sponsored by the Tripoli Shrine, available in the community and The Sheboygan Press.

In addition to a thrilling circus performance, this year’s attendees are invited to a “Pre-Party” thrown by the Shriners. The audience is invited into the three rings of the circus before, during intermission, and after the circus. Carden called his Tripoli Shrine Circus, “The only interactive circus in the world,” and added with a laugh, “For most people, this is as close as you can get to running away to join the circus.”

The Shrine Circus is a family affair for Carden and the Tripoli Shrine. Carden works with his wife, Alexandra, a former acrobat and aerialist, and son, Larry, an elephant trainer. Carden was previously an animal trainer as well before he decided to focus on the Shriners’ philanthropic and fundraising goals. The family experience is not limited to Carden and the Shriners. Carden cited the fact that most of his performers and employees are from circus families and still perform together in the Shrine Circus. “These talented folks can trace back their families for three to five generations, 100-plus years in circus life,” Carden said.

Carden’s troupe is especially fond of Wisconsin. “We’ve been coming for 30 years,” he said. “This is where we start our summer tour each year. I have literally watched most of our audience grow up.”

In addition to the elephants in the Shrine Circus, the show also features a fierce display of white Siberian tigers trained by Vicente Pages. The Shrine Circus also has one of the only female ringmasters in the entire circus world, Audrey Michelle.

“The Shriners here do so many good things for children and families,” Carden said of the impact the Tripoli Shrine Center has on Sheboygan. “I hope the families of this city will come out to meet my family, the families of the Shrine circus, and the Tripoli Shrine.”

The Tripoli Shrine is has partnered with a number of local sponsors to ensure deserving children will be able to attend this year’s Shrine Circus at no cost. Shriners are one of the oldest fraternal organizations in the world.

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