Shrine Circus closes with big smiles
El Karubah Shrine Circus: 9/23/12
Before the doors closed on the El Karubah Shrine Circus Sunday, people filled the CenturyLink Center one more time, ready to be mesmerized and amazed.
Patrons patiently lined up outside the center, waiting to enter the world of flying acrobats, quirky clowns, mystifying magicians, flexible dancers and animals of all kinds.
“Don’t know what to expect, but we’re excited,” said first-timers Shelby Carson and Lee Wright from Bossier City.
El Karubah has hosted the circus 66 years, providing family fun and entertainment. It is billed as the only interactive circus in the world.
Daniel Raffo the tiger trainer performs at the El Karubah Shrine Circus at CenturyLink Center Sunday afternoon. / Henrietta Wildsmith/The Times
World-renowned tiger trainer Daniel Raffo, Caroline Williams and her Liberty Horses and Hernando and Marius and their act Motorcycle Madness were just some of the acts added to this year’s circus. The lineup included acts from 15 different countries, including Argentina and Germany.
“I liked the motorcycles going up the ramp,” said Shreveporters Danny Brangato and Beth Hickman, who said that for them, that was the coolest part.
“I also liked the tigers,” said Hickman, experiencing this circus for the first time. “This is the most fun I’ve ever had … I hope they come back next year.”
The circus began as a fundraising event for the El Karubah Shriners. Proceeds benefit the shrine as well as the Shrine Hospital for Children, which established its first hospital in Shreveport in 1922 and earlier this month marked its 90th anniversary.
“This is our most important fundraiser,” said Fred Gregory, El Karubah’s potentate. “It’s important because it keeps our temple open … and keeps it operating.”
He said without a Shrine there would be no hospital, “so it’s absolutely crucial to have these events. We bring the kids from our hospital here and show them the circus. (There’s) about 6,000 kids in our arena with a smile on their face and that’s what’s makes it important to us to entertain these kids and give them wholesome entertainment. Just about everyone remembers going to a circus in their childhood and it was probably a Shriner’s circus.”
The pre-party hour prior to the show gave children and their parents a chance to meet the performers, ride the horses, ponies, elephants, take a photo with a snake and get creative with face paint.
“It’s vital to have these events,” said CenturyLink’s Melinda Cooper. “We love celebrating our children. Everyone always leaves with a smile, crackerjacks in their hands and cotton candy on their fingers.”