Shriners from across B.C. and the Yukon will hold one of their world-famous parades in Duncan on Saturday morning, May 19.
The parade is part of the Shriners’ annual Spring Ceremonial that welcomes new members to the international fraternal organization, known for its hospitals and helping kids in need around the world.
They are also known for their fezzes, the little cars they drive during their parades and the camaraderie and fun they have.
Harold Wallace, past-president of the Cowichan Valley Shrine Club and currently Potentate of the B.C.-Yukon region, said about 200 Shriners are descending on the Valley for the weekend to welcome 17 new members into their ranks.
He said the Spring Ceremonial is held in different locations around B.C. and the Yukon each year, and the last time one was held in the Cowichan Valley was in 2005.
Many of the events during the three-day Spring Ceremonial are open to the public, including the parade.
“The parade will begin on Fourth Street at 10 a.m. and make its way through the downtown core before ending at city hall,” Wallace said.
“It should be a lot of fun and we’re hoping a lot of people will come out to see it.”
Wallace said families and kids are also welcome to drop in to the Kids Fun Fair that will run from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 19, at the Island Savings Centre Arena.
He said the fair will have bouncy castles, face-painting, hots dogs and lot more for children, and it’s all free.
“It’s a great place to spend a few hours with the kids,” he said.
Wallace said some of the Spring Ceremonial’s events on Friday, May 18, are also open to the public
They include the ceremonial opening at 9 a.m. at the Island Savings Centre’s multi-purpose hall, followed by the Black Camel ceremony which honours Shriners who have died over the past year and ending with the welcoming of this year’s new members into the organization.
Wallace said he’s always been proud to be part of the 40-year old Cowichan Valley Shrine Club and the work it does.
He said local members and the other Shriners in B.C. and Yukon have been instrumental in helping to send dozens of kids over the years to the 22 Shriner hospitals across North America, which specialize in various medical conditions, to receive care.
“If a child needs help, we will do everything we can to have the child transported to one of our hospitals where they will receive proper care for their conditions from our world-renowned doctors,” Wallace said.
“There is no cost to the families and we raise the needed money from various fundraisers that we hold throughout the year.”
Wallace said there’s no better feeling than seeing a child who needed help receiving care and being healed.
“It’s really what it’s all about,” he said with a smile.