Cartersville Shriner helps mark 70th anniversary of World's Largest Shrine Circus and Carnival
by Marie Nesmith
Apr 26, 2012 | 1451 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With the World's Largest Shrine Circus and Midway Carnival opening this week, Cartersville resident Larry Cline and his fellow Shriners have been hard at work preparing for the offerings' 70th anniversary celebration. Operating the show at Jim R. Miller Park in Marietta is a group effort, with thousands of Shriners performing various roles, from parking attendants and clowns to concession workers.

"I am on the board of directors for Yaarab Temple [of Atlanta], which we are the ones that put the circus on," said Cline, who also belongs to the Cartersville Shriner Club. "And what that amounts to is we are elected by the members, the Shriners, in north Georgia.

"... And we have 60 clubs and units that operate under us in the Atlanta metro area as far up as the South Carolina border and as far up as Dalton and Hall. So we're one of the largest temples in the state of Georgia. ... This year my role at the circus is over food. All the food that is sold down here I will be part of or have people working under me. All the vendors that come in have to come through me, [such as] Coca-Cola. I actually moved in here a week ago this past Sunday. We bring our campers and mobile homes, and it usually takes us about eight to nine days to get everything set up."

With both offerings ending on May 6, the Midway Carnival will start today at 5 p.m. and the circus will get under way Friday with 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. performances. Throughout its run, the carnival will be open Monday to Friday from 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, the rides will begin at noon.

Along with about 20, 90-minute circus shows over a span of 10 days, the offerings also will include more than 40 carnival rides, food and a 9,000-square-foot Fun Zone.

The on-grounds gate admission -- covering unlimited circus performances that day and entrance to the carnival grounds -- will be $10 for adults, $6 for children 6 to 11 and free for youth 36 inches tall and shorter. Armbands granting unlimited carnival rides also will be available for $15 on opening day, $20 from Monday through Thursday and $25 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Parking will be $5.

According to www.circus2012.org, "The Yaarab Shrine Circus is one of two annual fundraising drives conducted by the Yaarab Shrine of Atlanta. For 70 years, Atlanta-area Shriners have held the circus offering reasonably priced and wholesome family entertainment with free admission for the elderly and underprivileged children.

"The proceeds go to continuing the operations of the shrine center so that Atlanta's Shriners can continue raising money for Shriners Hospitals for Children®, [which] ... is a health care system of 22 hospitals dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing specialty pediatric care, innovative research and outstanding teaching programs. Children up to the age of 18 with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate are eligible for admission and receive all care in a family-centered environment with no financial obligation to patients or families."

For Cline, helping children thrive is the most enjoyable aspect of being a Shriner.

"Seeing a kid that's able to do things that he couldn't have done if he hadn't gotten to one of our hospitals, maybe walk or run -- it will just bring tears to your eyes when you see a child that was burned and you can't tell it now or either they [were] born without a leg and now they have [prosthetic] legs. That's what it's all about."

For more information, visit www.circus2012.org or call 404-872-5818.