By Tim Leeds
Music will be playing, clowns performing and trapeze artists flying through the air in Havre Thursday when the North Central Montana Shrine Club brings the Jordan World Circus to town.
The Las Vegas-based Jordan circus will bring traditional favorites to Havre for the annual Shrine Circus: Shane Johnson will bring his big cats to the ring; the Sanchez Brothers will perform high wire acrobatics; Ross and Elisa Hartzell will perform marksmanship with their crossbows, including repeating the tale of William Tell by shooting apples off of each other's heads; the Jordan Danger Zone Riders will ride motorcycles around the inside of the "globe of death."
Patsy Jordan, who formed the circus with her husband, Johnny Jordan, in 1988, said there won't be any elephants in the performance this year. She said the circus had four elephants scheduled to appear this year, but the animals had to be sent back to their winter quarters in Illinois for additional tuberculosis testing.
Jordan said one of the four animals failed one of three TB tests, and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy requires that all must be isolated until additional tests are completed. She said the testing can take up to three or four months.
The Jordans produce the show, contracting with other acts to make a complete circus. She said they choose performers with good records, and those performers have to follow USDA regulations on animal care.
"We put it all together," Jordan said. "Then we make sure the animal people we hire take care of their animals."
She said they are proud of their record in animal care.
Jim Rogers of the USDA Legislative and Public Affairs division said the Jordan circus has never been charged with a USDA violation. He said whenever USDA has inspected the circus, circus personnel have corrected any problems found by the inspectors.
Jordan said she and her daughter now run the circus's office. Her son Jody and his wife, Melanie, have produced the show since her husband's death.
The two units of the Jordan circus perform 92 Shrine circuses a year across the United States and in British Columbia. The money raised by the circuses is used to fund the Shriners hospitals for children, where orthopedic, burn and spinal cord injury care is provided free of charge.
Local Shriners help provide transportation for local children to the hospitals, as well as hosting clinics for diagnosis and follow-up for care provided. The first stop for most children in this area is the Spokane Shriner's Children Hospital.
The Shriners' involvement in children's care began in 1919 at the annual convention when the Shriners voted to establish a hospital to treat orthopedic injuries, diseases and birth defects in children. The first Shriners Hospital was founded in Shreveport, La., in 1922. By 1930 there were 13 in operation.
There are now 22 Shriners hospitals, including three specializing in burn treatment and one, in Sacramento, Calif., that combines orthopedic care, burn treatment and spinal cord injury care.
Any child can be admitted to one of the hospitals if they are under 18 and the surgeons at the hospital believe they can be helped. In their first 79 years of operation, the 22 hospitals have treated approximately 650,000 children.
The major funding for the hospitals comes from substantial endowments, and from gifts, bequests, hospital fund-raising events such as the Shrine Circus, and an annual hospital assessment paid by every Shriner.
The tickets for the Havre performance are $2.50 at the door for children and $7.50 for adults. Havre Shriner Noel Davidson said local merchants have been distributing tickets to children.