05/20/07 — Shriners gather in Goldsboro

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Shriners gather in Goldsboro

By staff
Published in News on May 20, 2007 2:03 AM

From staff reports

Hundreds of Shriners from across eastern North Carolina converged on Goldsboro this weekend for their spring ceremonial, with a parade down Spence Avenue Saturday highlighting the two-day event.

Wayne Edwards of Wayne County, the 2007 Potentate of Sudan Shriners, said about 600 Shrine Club members attended the event, hailing from nearly 50 clubs from South Carolina to Virginia.

The event is one of three annual gatherings for the clubs. The others are in January and November, with the next one scheduled to be held in Dunn.

This weekend's ceremonial culminated Saturday night with the Potentate's Ball at the NCO Club at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. At the banquet, new members were to be installed and individuals recognized for their volunteer efforts.

The Shriners own and operate 22 hospitals and three burn centers for children. The hospitals specialize in orthopedic problems, cleft palates and spinal injuries.

All are free and depend on the Shrine clubs and their fundraisers for support.

Edwards said that despite the fun and fellowship that go along with parades and dinners, the work of the Shriners remains paramount.

The official name of the organization is the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of North America. The eastern North Carolina subdivision is referred to as the Sudan Oasis of Eastern North Carolina. Although some of the organization's rituals are secret, its goal is simple and clear. Edwards said the organization raised more than $17,000 for the children's hospitals and burn centers on Friday night alone.

All proceeds from Shrine events go to the charities, he emphasized. Shriners pay their own way to events and the mini-rig teams and other novelty vehicles that were part of the parade are maintained by individual club members.

Maj. George Raecher of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office is president of the Wayne County Shrine Club and served as chairman of the committee that set up the weekend of events. Raecher said the ceremonial, which started Friday morning, was a big success. A parade similar to Saturday's was held in Mount Olive on Friday evening and several business sessions were held Friday and Saturday.

"It was a great turnout," Raecher said, noting that planning for the event started a year ahead of time.