News: Shriners raise money, entertain, honor veterans
Story by Sgt. Jonathan Thomas
EL PASO, Texas – The 61st annual Shriner Circus packed the El Paso County Coliseum Veterans Day weekend, but on the fourth day, the Shriners took a moment away from the circus atmosphere to honor past and present service members.
“Veterans Day brings a tear to most of our eyes and a little hesitation to our talk, because we do appreciate our veterans, almost all my shriners [here] are veterans,” said John Wood, Shriner marshal for the El Maida Shrine. “Even though we’re out of the military, the military is still in our hearts.”
The George Carden Circus International provided the featured entertainment for the event, with a series of acrobatic feats, death defying stunts and comedy. Hosting the event were the Shriners, an offshoot of the Freemasons, from the El Maida Shrine here.
“The event is an annual celebration that we have,” said Wood. “It commemorates the services and joy we bring to the community through the help we give to those in need.”
In addition to offering Families entertainment under the big top, the annual event raises funds for the El Maida Shrine.
“We’ve had four [sold out] shows in the past four days,” said David Millis, Chief Rabban for the El Maida shrine. “This will help us continue the ongoing operations of our temple so that, in turn, we can help [the community].”
Entertaining and community service are deep-rooted values in the Shriner organization.
“Shriners have two main goals in life: we have fun and we take care of children, that’s what we’re here for,” said Millis. “You can’t believe how much fun this is, this is just flat-out fun. You can go out there and watch the acts and really enjoy yourself. The kids are enjoying it and we’ll be able to maintain our operations for some time to come.”