Arab Shrine gives away 1,500 circus tickets to emergency responders in Topeka area

Live at Five
Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 10:07 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Arab Shriners are saying “thanks” to emergency responders in Topeka and Shawnee County by giving away 1,500 tickets to the organization’s 83rd annual circus set for later this month at the Stormont Vail Events Center in the capital city.

“Arab Shriners appreciate the important service emergency responder personnel perform for the community,” said John Sidwell, a spokesman for the Arab Shrine in Topeka. “They perform their duties 24 hours a day at times that often conflict with normal family events. We want to give these dedicated professionals the opportunity to spend quality time with their families.”

Shriners made the ticket donation on Wednesday morning at the Arab Temple, 1305 S. Kansas Ave.

David Johnson, Chief Rabban of the Topeka Arab Shrine, said the ticket giveaway was a chance to show local first responders their work doesn’t go unnoticed.

“They don’t get the appreciation and recognition that they should be getting” Johnson said, “and this is just one way of us saying ‘Thank you.’”

Topeka Police Chief Bryan Wheeles, Shawnee County Sheriff Brian Hill and Topeka Fire Chief Randy Phillips were on hand for the ticket presentation.

“It’s a great organization with a great event and they’re showing support for the public safety team that we have here in Topeka-Shawnee County,” Wheeles said. “I sure am proud of that, and I’m proud of this organization, but I’m also proud of this community, just the way they support their public safety team really makes a difference to me.”

Phillips said firefighters are grateful for the community support they receive.

“I think just in general, we do feel like our efforts are appreciated by the community,” Phillips said, “but anytime when there’s a specific effort made like this, like you said, it’s just a nice little shot in the arm.”

Hill noted the Shriners have a tradition of giving tickets to local first-responders.

“It’s a fun environment to go to,” Hill said, “and I know our deputies love taking their kids and families to the circus.”

The 83rd Annual Arab Shrine Circus will take place Feb. 24, 25 and 26 at the Stormont Vail Events Center in Topeka.

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