For decades, the Moolah Shrine Circus has been inspiring kids of all ages to run away to the big top to enjoy carnival entertainment with deep roots in the community.
The family-friendly Moolah Shrine Circus is the longest continuously running circus in the state of Missouri. The show got its start in 1942 in the St. Louis Public School Stadium. Later, it moved to Busch Stadium. Today, it calls the Family Arena “home.”
The show boasts aerial ballet done by experienced trapeze artists, stunts performed atop motorcycles, a menagerie of impressive animals and clowns, of course.
“Most of the acts are pretty similar to the ones from previous years, but they’ll be done by new performers so that always freshens things up a bit,” said Don Taylor, the Moolah Shriners’ Chief Rabban. The Chief Rabban is by definition the temple’s first vice president. This year, Taylor also is the temple’s circus chairman.
“St. Louis is kind of unique because people in St. Louis know who the Shriners are, so they like to come out and help us,” Taylor said. “They respond to us. It lets them see who we are.”
Who they are is a band of brothers that, according to their website, are “distinguished by an enjoyment of life and a commitment to philanthropy.” Their philanthropy includes a network of 22 pediatric specialty hospitals, including one in St. Louis that provides specialized care to children with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate, regardless of the families’ ability to pay.
The annual Moolah Shrine Circus allows this band of brothers to “have a great time [and provide one while] helping kids.”
Animals appearances in the show include elephants, horses, tigers, camels and more. Attendees also will be able to get up-close and personal with the animals. Ride opportunities for animals like the ponies and elephants will take place before the show, during intermission and after the show. People also will have the chance to take pictures of the performers or ride the children’s train during those times. The Moolah Clowns also will be offering face painting. All the proceeds from the fundraiser will go back to helping the Moolah Shriners.
Circus season kicks off at 11 a.m. on March 10 with the 76th Annual Shrine Circus featuring colorful cars, floats and clowns. The parade steps off from Clark Street at its intersection with N. 2nd Street and travels south along Riverside Drive, located adjacent to Frontier Park. Spectators can park at the boathouse lot at Boone’s Lick Road and S. Riverside Drive, which also is where the parade culminates.
The three-ring spectacle takes place March 22-25 at the Family Arena, 2002 Arena Parkway in St. Charles. Multiple showtimes are available from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. depending on the day of the week. The 1 p.m. performance on March 25 will feature special seating for individuals with hearing impairments.
“We always talk to people when they leave the circus, and we hear families say a lot that they had a good time,” Taylor said. “As long as we can hear people said they had a great time and they had a great family experience that is our end goal. It’s to make sure they have a great family experience for the money they spend.”