People often ask, ‘Who are the Shriners?” and how does an such organization attract so many men from varied stations in life from the laborer to the building contractor, the teacher, doctor, movie star, clergyman, executive , head of state and yes, even a few Presidents.
You see us as those “guys with the funny red hats” parading in little cars or motorcycles; yep, that’s us, the Shriners. What you probably didn’t know is that each one of those Shriners share a Masonic heritage and are all Master Masons; and active in their local community.
How did it all start you ask? …. .. Well, let us give you the USA Today overview. In 1870, a few fun loving Master Masons from New York City use to gather for lunch on a regular basis at the Knickerbocker Cottage on 6th Avenue where they often discussed the idea of a fraternity or club that stressed fun and fellowship. Two of the regulars, Dr. Walter Fleming and William (Billy) Florence an actor took the idea seriously and began to do think about how to make it happen.
Billy Florence’s popularity as an actor took him around the world to perform and while touring Europe and Middle Eastern countries, he was invited by an Arabian diplomat to a party which he later recounted to resemble a staged musical comedy which upon its conclusion invited the guests to become members of a society of friends. Upon his return to the US and recalling his prior interest and commitment in establishing a fraternity based on fun and fellowship, he described his experiences and provided materials to Dr. Fleming who with the participation from several other regulars of the Knickerbocker Cottage crafted the emblems, rituals, costumes and converted that into what was to become the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (A.A.O.N.M.S.) which ironically, when rearranged spell. .. A MASON!
Following all this , on September 26, 1872 the 13 regular and original members from the Knickerbocker Cottage formed and chartered Mecca Temple. Today there are 196 Temples with membership of approximately 500,000. As interest and popularity in the new fraternity grew and with more Temples being chartered, the Shriners began in earnest to concentrate on its philanthropic commitment and on September 16, 1926 in Shreveport, LA, opened the 1st of what are now 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children throughout out the United States, Canada and Mexico which to date have served the special needs of over 750,000 children.
On the local level, in 1942, the Daytona Shrine Club was originally chartered under the jurisdiction of Morocco Temple in Jacksonville, FL and due to re-balancing districts was re-chartered under Bahia Temple in Orlando, FL in 1954. In 1966 The Daytona and Ormond Beach Shrine Clubs merged and were chartered as ‘The Greater Daytona Shrine Club”. Next year our local Shrine Club will be celebrating 75 years of commitment to Shriners Hospitals for Children and will also be the Host Shrine Club for the 2017 & 2018 Shrine rs International Imperial Session here in Daytona Beach in July and is expected to draw upward to 20,000 Shriners and family members from the 196 Shrine Temples located throughout the world ..
So now you know the rest of the story! How To Become A Shriner!