Shriners coming to town

Photo via Ahcom Shriners Facebook

Hundreds of Shriners will be converging on Chatham this fall with plenty of opportunities for residents to get involved.

Local Shriner branches will be hosting the Annual Fall Ceremonial on October 4 and 5.  During the event, several activities will be taking place.

Founded in 1870, the Shriners are a charitable society that has best become known for their Shriners Hospitals for Children which administers free treatment to patients. According to Mark Schrank, director-general of the ceremonial, no Shriner gets paid for their work and the ceremonial is a chance for members to get together, have fun and welcome new members.

Schrank said there are also several events planned for the public and non-Shriners, including a bar-b-que at the St. Clair College HealthPlex on Grand Avenue West in Chatham from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on October 4. Tickets are available at the Healthplex, Water Elite in Chatham or from any Shriner.

“[It’s] $25 a ticket at the Healthplex. A rib and chicken dinner. They can come to see the Masons, find out what we’re all about, talk to the Shriners, have a good meal and enjoy the fun,” he said.

From 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. on October 5 there will be opening remarks and units will be presenting their donations to the Shriners Hospitals. Schrank said members of the public are also welcome to attend the opening ceremony and offer any donations to the hospital.

“The Shriners and units all bring their donations to the table to be recognized. At that time if anyone did want to donate, they can,” Schrank explained. “They can donate anytime, they can drop in Friday night and say ‘hi I’d like to donate’ and we can take care of it there too.”

On the afternoon of October 5, the Shriners will be hosting a parade along Grand Avenue West starting at 2 p.m.

“We’ll be forming up at the YMCA, we’ll be coming up Tim Hortons Way beside A&W onto Grand Avenue, down Grand Avenue and straight onto the HealthPlex,” said Schrank. “Hopefully, Chatham will come out and welcome all the Shriners from all over Ontario.”

There are currently around 350,000 Shriners across the globe. According to Schrank, there will be anywhere from 300 to 400 members from across Ontario and Michigan will be coming out for the Fall Ceremonial.