By Jesse Wood
May 15, 2014. The Oasis Shriners’ summer ceremonial weekend event returns to Blowing Rock in a few weeks, highlighted by the parade through downtown Blowing Rock and Gov. Pat McCrory speaking at Memorial Park.
The ceremonial weekend, which begins and ends at Chetola Resort, takes place Friday, May 30, to Sunday, June 1. A complete schedule listing is featured below.
Oasis Shriners, which covers the western 50 counties in North Carolina, is one of about 200 chapters of Shriners International, a “fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth,” according to the organization’s website.
Shriners International supports Shriners Hospitals for Children, which is a network of 22 hospitals in North America that provides care for children from infancy to the age of 18. One chapter’s website notes that more than 800,000 children have been helped across the 22 hospitals.
As of right now, several thousand children in the Oasis district are currently receiving care. The closest facility to the High Country is Greenville, S.C., and no patient or parent is ever been charged for services or treatment rendered at the Shriners Hospitals.
The Shriners Hospital for Children has a three-pronged mission:
- treat children in specialty areas of orthopaedics, burn care, spinal cord injury and cleft lip and palate
- conduct research in those areas
- train physicians and medical professionals in those areas
As David Sumpter, CEO of the Oasis chapter, said at Friday morning’s press conference at Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, the Shriners cover everything “beyond what insurance companies provide.”
Oasis: The Most Successful Chapter
As for the Oasis chapter, it is arguably the most successful chapter in the world. As the largest chapter – or temple – Oasis has nearly 6,000 members, and raised $1.4 million last year. That amount was “far and above” any amount raised by the other 195 existing chapters, said Oasis Shriners’ Outer Guard George Wilcox at Friday morning’s press conference at Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock.
Wilcox noted that the success of the Oasis chapter is attributed to the great heritage of masonry in the Carolinas. Many settlers, Wilcox said, came from the “old country” of Scotland and England and brought with them their masonry principles.
Helping Veterans, Too
Oasis Shriners is also collaborating with Charlotte Bridge Home, which has a mission to help Charlotte veterans successfully transition home after military service.
“Let me tell you that is a tall order of business,” Wilcox said, noting the trauma associated with soldiers returning home from war. Oasis Shriners is currently working with Charlotte Bridge Home to provide specially-trained “comfort” dogs to veterans.
The Ceremonies in Blowing Rock
In a few weeks, hundreds of Shriners and their friends and families will descend on Blowing Rock for a “big day with big activities,” according to Sumpter and Wilcox. The two added that Oasis continues to return to Blowing Rock because of the “extraordinary welcome” the group receives from the town.
The parade takes place on Saturday, May 30, from 2 to 3 p.m. in downtown Blowing Rock and at 3 p.m. “Oasis in the Park” begins. This is when Gov. Pat McCrory will speak.
“Gov. McCrory very graciously accepted our invitation to be grand marshal,” Wilcox said, emphasizing that this isn’t a politicized event and mentioning that former Gov. Bev Perdue has been invited to attend events in the past.