The Shrine Circus is a fun, affordable, family-friendly show that is exciting for kids and adults alike! Adults get to be a kid again, seeing the wonder of the circus through your son or daughter’s eyes. Grandparents, you’ll be brought back to your first visit all those years ago and feel connected to your grandkids by an exciting, shared life experience. As a kid, there is no describing the wonder and amazement you feel watching the animal and human performers entertain you.
Who are the Shriners?
Shriners International describes itself as a fraternity based on fun, fellowship, and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief, and truth. There are approximately 300,000 members from 198 temples (chapters) in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Mexico, the Republic of Panama, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Europe, and Australia. The organization is best known for the 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children that it administers, and the red fezzes that members wear.
The Shriners organization prides itself on having fun and helping kids – this includes hosting a variety of events, both philanthropic and otherwise. This includes, for many temples, hosting the annual Shrine Circus. Shriners have been hosting circuses across the country since 1906!
A Bit of History
The first Shrine Circus was held in Detroit, Michigan, for the Moslem Shrine Center. There is a state historical marker at the former site which proclaims its contribution to circus history.
The circus was originally a one-ring affair, but by 1925 it had grown to three rings. Despite now traveling to many cities, the Detroit affair is still the largest. In 1996, it ran for 17 days with 40 performances making it not only the oldest Shrine Circus, but also the most attended. The most famous venue to host the circus is the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, where the Southern California Shrine Circus takes place.
By the 1920s Shrine Circuses were being conducted throughout the country, and each year additional Shrine Centers introduced circuses to their communities. The first Shrine Circus each year is usually in Flint, Michigan, each January. The circus then travels to at least one city per week through November. The last performances are usually being held Thanksgiving week in Evansville, Indiana, and New Orleans, Louisiana. The 2005 season ended inBaton Rouge, Louisiana, rather than New Orleans, due to Hurricane Katrina.
The term “Shrine Circus” is usually prefaced by the name of the host Shrine in each geographic area. Over the years many circus stars have appeared in Shrine Circuses, including: Clyde Beatty, the Flying Wallendas, Emmett Kelly, the Flying Concellos, the Hannefords and the Zacchinis.