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Horse show to benefit Delano playground

By Paul Huggins 340-2395

The Alabama Charity Championship Horse Show returns to Celebration Arena at Priceville this week with its usual lineup of champion saddlebreds, but this year it benefits a new organization.

Junior League

The Junior League of Morgan County has replaced Children's Hospital of Birmingham as the recipient of show proceeds. Money collected this year will go to the new handicapped-accessible playground for Delano Park.

Though it's the first year for the Morgan County women to organize a horse show, it's a common fundraising activity for Junior Leaguers around America, and the largest saddlebred show is run by the organization in Lexington, Ky., said Anna Clark, show spokeswoman.

The 16 previous shows had supported Children's Hospital, and while the hospital serves the entire state, Clark said she hopes the community will be more inclined to support the playground because it's in Decatur.

Free admission

Admission to all shows is free, as is parking. Proceeds come from sponsors and horse entry fees.

The show typically draws some of the best saddlebreds from across the country, and more than 700 competed last year, including some belonging to actor William Shatner, Clark said.

Silent auction

The show begins tonight at 6 and offers six more performances through Saturday night. Thursday and Friday's shows are at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday's shows are 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. The Saturday morning show is a children's performance.

Friday's night show will offer a silent auction, post-show entertainment by the Eddie Miller Band, a barbecue dinner and inflatable rides for children. The action will begin at 7 p.m. and end at 9 p.m. The auction includes jewelry, locally produced artwork, vacation packages, a Mercedes pedal car, designer luggage, clothes and a number of items donated by local boutiques.

Playground cost

The handicapped-accessible playground will cost $400,000. The city has pledged $100,000
as matching funds to get a $200,000 federal grant. The Junior League needs to raise $100,000 and has raised $60,000 so far.

Over the past 16 years, the Charity Horse Show has raised more than $340,000.

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