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Monday, January 16, 2012

Shrine Circus sees boost in numbers for Flint event; event offers hands-on participation, new acts



Lathan Goumas Flint JournalGrey St. John watches a tiger taming act with his sons Graydy St. John, 5, and Cayden St. John, 7, and his wife Teri St. John during a performance of the Shrine Circus at the Perani Arena and Event Center in Flint on Sunday.


By Roberto Acosta Flint Journal

The Flint Journal Published: Sunday, January 15, 2012,

FLINT, Michigan — Fiber-optic wands and spinning balls lit up Flint's Perani Arena at times Sunday during the 69th annual Shrine Circus, while the oohs and awes of thousands in the crowd echoed as trapeze artists flew threw through the air with ease.Grand Blanc resident Justinian Durmon could hardly contain his excitement after having a photo taken with a yellow and white-colored Burmese python on the floor of the arena.
"It felt weird, cause it was crawling all over me," said Justinian, 6, his mouth outlined with blue sugar from cotton candy.
"It was his idea," said Wesley Durmon, 33, Justinian's father of the Polaroid with the reptile. "He'd seen it and had to go."
Kelly Kelley summed up her experience atop a 13-foot tall, 9,000-pound elephant in one word: scary.


Elephants perform during the Shrine Circus at Perani Arena and Event Center in Flint on Sunday.To keep the event fresh, Singelis said new acts are brought in each year, with this event including a motocross jump across the arena, monkeys, chimpanzees and trapeze family.
A slow economy may actually be helping the event, said Alan Basner, Potentate for the local organization.
"With the way the economy has been, people don't like to go very far," he said. "It's been a great turnout this year."

Fiber-optic wands light up the stands during the Shrine Circus Sunday at the Perani Arena and Event Center in FlintThe first Shrine Circus event took place in Detroit, held by the Moslem Shrine Center, and has grown from a one-ring to three-ring circus traveling to roughly 160 cities in the United States and Canada.
Deanna Struck and two-year-old grandson Landin Curtis took in this year's event, with Landin waving a spinning ball as trapeze artists swung high above the arena floor to the crowd's delight.
"The kids really liked the tigers, and Landin really liked the puppies" said Struck, of Flint, of another one of the show's performances. She appreciated what the event was meant to do while entertaining the crowd.
"I like the Shriners," Struck said. "I support the Shriners and thankful for what they do."
While patrons have fun, state Rep. Charles Smiley, D-Burton, said the performers are just as excited for the event each year. The former Burton Mayor has performed in the circus for more than a decade, as Smiley the clown.
"To see that smile, the sparkle in their eyes," he said of the children pining for autographs and photos with the 30 to 40 clowns. "It makes everything worthwhile."
Money raised during the event goes towards the center's opreating budget and its mission which includes funding for Shriners Hospitals for Children in Chicago, Erie, Pa. and Cincinnati, Ohio.
Flint resident Tim Corrigan, also known as Knoby the Clown, received treatment from six months of age until he was 18 at the Shrine Hospital in Chicago.
"With me, I had birth marks and my left leg was shorter than my right leg and I had a crooked ankle bone," said Corrigan, 32, who suffered from a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis.
He's performed at the Shrine Circus for 10 years now, after overcoming his physical issues as a gesture of thanks.
"I just wanted to repay them for the help I got," said Corrigan.
The event runs through Monday at Perani Arena. For more information on the event, visit elf-khurafeh-shrine-circus.com or peraniareana.com.

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