Elephant trainer Cindy Morris feeds ginger snaps to Cora, a 9,000 lb., 49-year-old Asian elephant at Jim Miller Park in Marietta during the Annual Yaarab Shrine Circus and Carnival in 2010.
by Marcus E. Howard
The Marietta Daily Journal
April 23, 2012
MARIETTA – The 70th annual Yaarab Shrine Circus and Carnival, the largest Shrine circus in North America, is rolling into town at Jim R. Miller Park in Marietta for 10 days, beginning Friday through May 6.
With more than 22 performances, circus goers can enjoy circus acts from around the world, including high-flying trapeze acts, aerials acrobatics, show horses, elephants, bears, daredevil stunts, carnival rides and the famous Shriner clowns.
The Midway Carnival opens at 5 p.m. Thursday, with rides and food only. The circus kicks off at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, with a parade at 6 p.m.
Admission is $10 for adults; $6 for children (ages 6 through 11); and free for children 36 inches in height and shorter. Gate admission includes unlimited circus performances on any given day and access to the grounds for the Midway Carnival.
Midway Carnival unlimited rides armbands are available for sale on opening day, Thursday, for $15 and includes admission plus unlimited rides. The Monday through Thursday price is $20 for admission, plus unlimited rides. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, gate tickets are $25 admission, plus unlimited rides. Parking is $5.
Through an exclusive program with metro Atlanta Walgreen stores, individuals and families can save with advance discount tickets for the Shrine circus and Midway Carnival.
More than 100,000 people are expected to attend this year’s circus in Marietta, which remains a good way for families to entertain their children, said Steve Padgett of east Cobb, who served as the 1997 potentate, or president, for the 4,500-member Atlanta Yaarab Shriner Center. His father was potentate in 1987.
“It’s good, clean, wholesome family fun,” said Padgett, 53.
Plus “we generate a lot of sales tax revenue for Cobb County. We’ve been in Cobb County since 1986, and in those years we’ve probably brought in over $1 million in sales tax for the county.”
The circus is an annual fundraising drive conducted by the Yaarab Shriners of Atlanta. For 81 years, they’ve been raising money to support Shriners Hospitals for Children.
In addition to 24, 90-minute performances over 10 days, families at the circus will be able to enjoy more than 40 carnival rides and attractions, plus mouthwatering foods such as funnel cakes, cotton candy, burgers, snow cones, pizza and elephant ears.
New this year is a 9,000-square-feet “Fun Zone,” with its games for children and adults, including racing simulators, classic arcades, laser tag and more. All games are on free play with the purchase of a Fun Zone wristband.
Third-generation Shriner, Chuck Pittman of Hiawassee, the Shriner’s 2012 circus director who oversees the entire operation, said the aerials and acrobats are crowd favorites.
“We’ve got the high-wire acts coming back this year, along with our ending act — which was very popular last year — the high-flying motorcycles that go as high and touch the top of the equestrian center, and do the acrobatic works on the motorcycles,” said Pittman, 59.
“It’s all family-oriented.”
Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - Circus comes to town Friday