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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hejaz Shrine Circus returns with a whole new show 



By Jake B. Grove
from Anderson Independent Mail.com
March 22, 2012
For years, the Hejaz Shrine Circus has been a mainstay of the Civic Center of Anderson and family entertainment in the Upstate. The only problem with that might be that when you see a Shrine Circus, it's hard to return the next year and see something new.


That won't be a problem this weekend as the Shrine Circus returns to Anderson with three days of lions and tigers and elephants, oh my! And when they say the show is "new and improved," they mean it.


For the first time in years, the Shrine Circus is being performed by a completely new circus company. The animals are different, the acts are different, the clowns are different and the feats of daring are different. About the only thing that is the same is the name and that's been the same for 47 years.


"For 47 years, we have prided ourselves on bringing fun, wholesome, family entertainment to audiences through the Hejaz Shrine Circus," said Sherwood Kaiser, circus administrator. "Of course, we want people to keep coming back, so we have to give them something new in addition to wholesome."


The new starts with the most majestic and popular animal in the Shrine Circus, the white tigers. From what Kaiser has been told, the Shrine Circus will feature 14 white tigers performing in one cage at the same time, and this is the first time this has happened in the United States. He said it is an awe-inspiring sight to see, and he can't wait to see the children's eyes light up when the tigers come out into the center ring.




Also for the first time, there will be a female ringmaster leading the charge of clowns, acrobats, animals and daredevils delighting the audiences at the Civic Center. Kaiser said the ringmaster has performed all over the country since she was 6 years old, as a dancer, animal coordinator and more.


Add to that two aerial acts including Monica Zerbini on the Roman Rings and Lauryn Murray on the silks dangling high overhead, as well as The Chicago Boyz performing feats of daring on the ground, and this year's circus is set to be one for the ages.


"This is one of those rare things that appeals to every age group and every demographic," said Glenn Brill, director of the Anderson Parks, Recreation and Tourism division. "And it's amazing because this is a 21st century audience enjoying something that has been around since the 19th century."


Brill said the appeal of a circus goes beyond the animals or the clowns or the ringmaster alone. The children are in awe of everything around them, he said. They marvel at the elephants marching in line and gasp when a man gets nose to nose with a tiger. And adults can relive those lost moments of their childhood with the children they love so much.


The people and the looks on their faces from the time the circus begins to the time it ends is what makes it all worthwhile to Kaiser.


"The children and the popcorn and their faces that light up make it amazing for me," he said. "And those children are all ages from 2 to 92."


Of course, there is no explaining a circus in words. As it has always been, the Shrine Circus is something that has to be experienced to be appreciated. But when it is, it's something you want to do all over again.




It is that way for Brill and the Parks, Recreation and Tourism division. They are in talks to get the Hejaz Circus to come to town twice a year in the near future.
 
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Until then, the Hejaz Shrine Circus will be at 7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Civic Center of Anderson. Tickets are $10 for children and $11 for adults in advance and $12 and $13 the day of the show. Children 2 and under will be admitted free.


For more information, call 864.260.4800 or go online to www.ticketmaster.com for tickets. Money raised from the Shrine Circus goes to benefit multiple philanthropic efforts by the Hejaz Temple.

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