Shrine Circus promises visitors a live experience to remember

Forget the iPods and iPads, the blockbuster movies with computer-generated effects and other technologically rigged staples of 21st century entertainment.

When visitors go to the Las Vegas Zelzah Shrine Circus, which begins a four-day run this evening at Orleans Arena, everything they see will be totally live and wholly authentic.

And that, says circus owner George Carden, a nearly lifelong veteran of the circus, is why, even in high-tech times, the circus still enthralls.

Circuses, Carden says, will be around for "as long as we’re going to have children in this world."

Proceeds from the Las Vegas Zelzah Shrine Circus go toward the operation of Zelzah Shrine Temple Las Vegas. That organization, in turn, supports charitable activities of Shriners International, including medical services the organization offers to children.

Carden says the appeal of the circus lies in its appeal to not just children, but adults, too.

"We always like to say that no one is too old or too young for it," he says.

"Our show is made up that way. Every year we entertain the adults, the mothers, the grandfathers, the grandmothers, the aunts and the uncles, as well as the children."

Paul Granstrom, potentate of Zelzah Shrine Temple Las Vegas, would agree. Yet, he says, some children still haven’t been acquainted with the circus.

"You know, if you talk to the average child here in Las Vegas, a great many of them have no idea what you’re talking about when you say ‘circus,’ " he says.

But when they do find out, they’re apt to be amazed that everything they see is happening as they watch, without benefit of technological trickery.

Take, for example, David Smith Jr., who will perform his human cannonball act and, Carden notes, currently holds the world’s record for longest human cannonball flight (59.05 meters, or just more than 193 feet).

With the Orleans Arena’s length and height, "he can do a fabulous cannon shot," Carden says. "But it’s that kind of excitement for young and old alike.

"We have a great dog act, aerial acts, a flying trapeze. We have people from China, from South America, from Mexico. People from all over the world will be performing."

Also performing this year will be daredevil motorcycle riders, tigers, and performing camels, horses and elephants, Carden says.

And, of course, there will be clowns, "both Shrine clowns as well as our circus’ clowns," Carden says.

Each performance will run for just more than two hours, Carden says, and guests may stop by an hour before the show to meet performers and take part in pre-show activities.

This weekend’s Las Vegas performances kick off the Carden circus’ 2013 season. Not surprisingly, Carden says, Las Vegas is the most popular stop on the show’s annual calendar among performers.

"Everybody wants to come out there," Carden says. "Everybody wants to leave a day or two earlier and stay a day after, because they want to take advantage of the entertainment offerings in Las Vegas."

And, he says, performers will be at the top of their game.

"When it comes to Las Vegas, you must bring in a quality product," Carden says.

"People there will be excited. It’s family entertainment, and when families bring their children to the show they’ll leave excited and happy and have a great time."

Contact reporter John Przybys at jprzybys@review or 702-383-0280.

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