More than 300 Shriners from across B.C. and the Yukon will be donning their signature red fez hats and travelling to Williams Lake for their annual spring ceremonial.
The host club, Cariboo Shrine Club #26, is made up of members from Williams Lake and 100 Mile House, including lakecity resident Tom Barr, who has been a noble Shriner for 10 years.
“It’s pretty exciting to have a convention of this size coming to Williams Lake,” Barr said of the convention, set to take place May 26-28. “Not only does it show off our area to people from across the province, it also gives an economic boost to businesses in town and reminds people what Shriners are all about — and that is helping sick children.”
The organization is best known for the Shriners Hospitals for Children that it administers — currently an impressive 22 hospitals from Mexico City to Montreal.
“I visited the children’s hospital in Portland on two occasions and it’s amazing what they have there because of the Shriners.”
The convention will be centred at the Ramada Inn with a registration and meet and greet at the Visitor Information Centre Thursday, May 26.
Friday is the official opening which will take place in the Gibraltar Room at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex. The opening will be followed by the initiating of new members into the order and a tribute to those who have passed on. In the evening, a barn dance is planned at the arena for the shriners’ nobles and ladies.
Saturday will showcase the Shriners’ playful side, with a parade including some in their trademark mini cars and scooters and general clowning around in the downtown area.
Barr said the group is also planning to team up with the Women’s Contact Society for the annual Children’s Festival at Boitanio Park.
The spring ceremonial will come to a close Saturday evening with the “fezzing” of nine new Nobles (members) at a formal banquet and dance at Thompson Rivers University.
“We invite everyone out to the parade and Children’s Festival to welcome the Shriners. It will be a great weekend.”
Barr said exact times and dates of the Shriner events will be publicized in the weeks to come.