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The Western North Carolina Oasis Shriners Take Over Main Street for the Shriners Parade Saturday, June 1

by Madison V. Fisler

June 3, 2013. The Western North Carolina Oasis Shriners made their way to Blowing Rock once again last weekend for the Shriners Parade and Spring Ceremonial, and the community showed up by the hundreds to support and enjoy them. 

“Generally speaking, folks around here love seeing the Shriners come to town,” said Tracy Brown, Executive Director of the Blowing Rock Tourism Development Authority. 

The high-energy, colorful parade entertained Blowing Rock residents and visitors on Saturday, June 1, at 2 p.m. The town closed down Main Street for the event, allowing the Shriners to have free reign through downtown. The traditional parade, which was the highlight of the WNC Shriners Summer Ceremonial, brought hundreds of Shriners to the High Country and captivated the audience.

Also included on Saturday was an information trailer which was situated at Memorial Park. At the trailer, visitors could pick up pamphlets and get more information about what exactly the Shriners do. For those who had not encountered the Shriners before, this served as a great way to educate the public about the Shriners Hospitals and the Shrine as an organization. In addition, the Oasis band played in Memorial Park for about an hour and a half after the parade on Saturday.

“The Shrine is mysterious to a lot of people but once they realize the work that they do for children they love it. Those with questions are always excited and surprised to learn what they do and they love the idea of helping the shriners hospitals,” Brown said. 

In addition, the Shriners have also already committed to returning to Blowing Rock next year. 

“The town really enjoys having them here and that’s why they choose to come back,” Brown said.

The Shriners came to Blowing Rock last weekend for their weekend-long event. Blowing Rock found itself filled to the brim with Shriners, their families and visitors alike. 

Although the parade was enjoyable for all involved, the main focus of their weekend was the Summer Ceremony, where masons were elevated to the Shrine. This year, there were around 40 participants being elevated into Shriners this weekend, including the owner of Chetola Resort, Kent Tarbutton, said Marcia Greene of Chetola Resort

Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock acted as the host hotel for the majority of the festivities, including the Summer Ceremony on Saturday morning, a party on Friday night and Summer Ball on Saturday evening. 

“We love having the Shriners with us,” said Kara Miller, Sales and Events Director at Chetola Resort. 

“They are a great group, a lot of fun and bring a lot of business to the town. Almost every room here was filled with Shriners,” Miller said. 

The Shriners have already committed to staying once again at the Chetola Resort. Next year the Shriners will be in town for their summer ceremonial from May 30 – May 31 2014, which will mark their fifth year at Chetola. 

Other than delighting viewers, the Shriners also provide an economic boom for the small mountain community, filling hundreds of hotel rooms and condos throughout the High Country, eating at the local restaurants and shopping at local shops. 

The Oasis Shrine covers about 50 counties in western North Carolina. Of the three Shrine Temples in North Carolina, Oasis, which is based out of Charlotte, is the largest with over 7,000 members. Following Oasis is the eastern Sudan Shrine, which covers the eastern counties of the state, and the central part of the state is covered by the Amran Shrine. This year, the internationally combined contributions of the Shriners will reach a mind boggling $850 million to support the 22 Shriners Hospitals.

“Its all about children that need orthopedic care, burns, even cleft lip is all taken care of,” said Brown. “And its all without charge.”  

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Photos by Ken Ketchie

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