Ainad Shriners parade, race and circus are this weekend

The George Carden Performing Elephants are part of the Ainad Shriners Circus.
The George Carden Performing Elephants are part of the Ainad Shriners Circus. Fun Time Shows

The Ainad Shriners have a big weekend planned to entertain and thrill your whole family. It gets off to a fast start with the first Shriners Parade 5K run, followed by the popular circus parade on Friday, and the Ainad Shriners Circus on Saturday and Sunday.

The 49th annual Shriners Circus features animal acts, clowns and acts of derring-do. Trainer Michael Ramos will put his Royal Bengal Tigers through their paces, including rings of fire. And the George Carden Circus Performing Elephants will do things you (and they) will never forget.

To get your heart pounding, look up fo the Toscano High Wire Troupe. The Windy City Tumblers from Chicago and Trupo Florea will amaze you with their acrobatics and balance. In the How Do They Do That Department: Watch the Mongolian Contortionist tie herself into knots, then unwind with David and Dania, who will amaze you with their “sleight-of-body” incredible costumer change right before your eyes.

Oh, and share some laughs with Just Larry the clown.

The Ainad Shriners is a Masonic fraternal organization 4,100 strong across Southern Illinois. The guys in the “funny red hats” have a common goal of helping others in the community, especially children. Proceeds from the circus benefit Ainad Shriners operations. Here’s what you need to know about the weekend’s events.

The circus

What: Fun Time Shows three-ring circus

When: 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: Belle-Clair Fairgrounds, 200 South Belt East in Belleville

Tickets: $14 adults, $10 children. They can be purchased at all Southern Illinois Hucks stores, MotoMarts and Schnucks, and at the circus ticket window.

Proceeds: Benefit Ainad Shriners operations

Information: SoILshrinerscircus.com for circus stops in Belleville, Jerseyvill, Fairfield, Olney, Salem and DuQuoin

The parade

What: It’s a good idea to bring your lawn chairs early and pick out a spot along Main Street to see Shriners go-carts and cars, bands and clowns, along with local bands, dance groups and organizations strutting their stuff.

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: through downtown Belleville, from 17th and West Main streets, around Veterans Memorial Fountain, ending at 800 East Main.

The parade 5K

What: The run/walk begins at Union United Methodist Church, 721 East Main St., heading west on Main for 1 1/2 miles and back. Participants will be cheered on by people lining Main Street for the circus parade.

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, just before the Shriners Parade.

Cost: $30 for all registrants.

How to register: online registration is closed. In-person registration is available from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Belleville Parks and Recreation, 510 W. Main St., Belleville; registration is also available from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. before the race on Friday on at Union United’s parking lot.

Packet pickup: 4-7 p.m. Thursday at Belleville Parks and Recreation, 510 W. Main St.; 4-6:15 p.m. Friday in the upper parking lot of Union United Methodist Church

Proceeds: Benefit Shriners Hospital for Children-St. Louis.

Information: Call Jules at 618-795-4711 or Danielle at 618-791-7142 or email shrinersparade5K@gmail.com