BANGOR, Maine — Though he’s only 2 years old, Noah Bryden of Bangor already had made his second visit to the Anah Shrine Circus, which on Friday started its three-day run at the Bangor Auditorium.
Wide-eyed with wonder, the toddler excitedly pointed out some of the characters waiting to greet him.
“Clowns! Ernie! Bert!” he said. Also on hand were Donald Duck, Sylvester the Cat and many other figures familiar to children and grown-ups alike.
For Noah’s family, like many others in the area, a trip to the Anah Shrine Circus is a tradition.
“I used to go when I was a kid,” said Noah’s mom, Rebecca Babcock.
“He’s our first and only grandson, so he’s not spoiled, not one bit,” grandfather Larry Babcock said with a chuckle.
Proving you’re never too old — or too cool — for the circus, a trio of teenagers drove in from Belfast to take in the first of two shows set for Friday.
Devon Drake and Aspen Ventura, both 16, posed with a clown as a friend, 17-year-old Bradley Reed, snapped their pictures.
And that was just outside.
“We’ve got a great circus planned this year,” circus director Charles Grindle of Verona Island said as the first of seven shows set for this weekend got under way.
Grindle said the 47th edition of the Anah Shrine Circus offers white tigers, a flying trapeze act, acrobatics, performing dogs and contortionists. It also features aerial ring performers, displays of grace and agility on the hula hoop and dozens of clowns. The finale is a patriotic salute involving the entire cast of circus performers.
Absent from this year’s lineup are elephants.
“Part of the reason is the high cost of getting them here,” Grindle said. The other reason is that traveling elephant shows are becoming increasingly rare, he said.
Remaining shows in Bangor will take place at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. today, and 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday.
The circus then packs up and heads north to Presque Isle for shows at the Northern Maine Forum. Those shows are set for 7 p.m. Thursday, May 6; 7 p.m. Friday, May 7; and 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, May 8.
Tickets for both venues are $8 in advance, $10 at the door for adults; $4 in advance, $6 at the door for children.
Proceeds of the Anah Shrine Circus benefit Anah Temple.