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(Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)<br>

(Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)

(Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)<br>

(Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)

Making kids smile, keeping them happy driving force for Shrine Circus

Last Modified: Tuesday, October 09, 2012 12:16 PM

By Lance Traweek / American Press

Even though being a clown for the Shrine Circus for the past seven years has been fun, “Poppie” said the most rewarding part is making the kids smile.

“I try to keep the kids happy, while still going out and being a spokesman for Shriners and the community,” the clown said Sunday at the 140th annual Habibi Shrine circus. “We have several different acts. Today we will do the chicken dance, a levitation act, and a photograph act, which I like the most because I get to hit another clown with a powder puff.”

Brian Ezell, Chief Rabban of the Habibi Shrine in Lake Charles, said there are 22 hospitals in the United States and Canada who are helped with the money raised over the weekend.

“We treat children with burns and orthopedic problems at no cost to the family,” Ezell said. “This circus is the only fundraiser we have for us to maintain and keep our organization in Lake Charles operating. All of the other money we raise goes to the hospital.”

Traveling since February, circus producer James Plunkett said the circus efforts start with the Shriners who start weeks in advance to advertise that the circus is coming in town.

“We go from town to town, so when we get here it takes us about 10 hours to get everything set up,” Plunkett said. “Lake Charles is our final spot. We will all be going home Monday.”

He said most of the performers will go back to Texas, Florida and Las Vegas.

“This is a tradition that goes back 200 years,” Plunkett said. “We just hope folks have a good time.”

Acts included acrobats on rings and ropes, motorcycles circling in a sphere, several clown acts, and tricks by elephants, dogs, and tigers.

Nine-year-old Donavyn McCoy said he liked all the parts but he liked the tigers the most.

“I liked when they went through the fire hole,” McCoy said. “One of them roared.”

Five-year-old Komora Ceasar went to the circus with her grandmother.

“I liked when the tigers jumped through the hoop,” Ceasar said. “I liked the clowns too. They were doing the funniest things.”

Nine-year-old Gracie Breaux played with her light up sword in between acts but said the tigers were her favorite.

“Today was special,” Breaux said. “I’m glad I came here with my family.”

Fourteen-year-old Karley Peloquin went to the circus with her grandmother and cousins and said she liked looking up at the acrobatic acts.

“I like bringing my family so they can see the acts,” Peloquin said.

Misty Barks went to the circus with her mother, her brother and all of their kids.

“I think this is great for the community,” Barks said. “You’re not only supporting a good cause but the kids get to have fun and we get to have fun.”

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