GREEN BAY - More than 700 Shriners and their spouses are headed to Green Bay next week, and while none will be making the trip driving a tiny car, you can bet they’ll be bringing a few along.
Two parades for the public will be part of the Midwest Shrine Association convention Aug. 17-20, which means spectators can expect grown men zipping around in mini motorized vehicles — long a signature of Shriners parade units.
“Us big boys acting like little boys,” said Gary Fehl, public relations director for the local Beja Shriners.
There will be little cars, mini bikes, big wheel tricycles, go-karts and motorcycles, many performing in formation, for parades at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 18 in Seymour and 10:30 a.m. Aug. 20 in Green Bay. The routes as as follows:
In Seymour: Travels down Main Street from Babbitt to Eagle streets
In Green Bay: Starts at Dousman Street and Military Avenue, travels Dousman to North Taylor Street and then Bond Street to the Beja Shriners, 1950 Bond St.
Not all of the units will be powered by motors. An antique Wells Fargo stagecoach will be pulled by horses and a large Chinese dragon will work the crowd thanks to eight or nine Shriners walk beneath the giant puppet.
The fraternal organization known for its work with the Shriner’s Children’s network of hospitals will also be sending in the clowns, another of its hallmarks, for both parades.
“A shrine parade is really more of a performance parade,” said Gene Reece, director general for MSA 2022. “Every unit is doing a performance, either a clown performance or a motor corps performance where they’re doing a cadence with their motorized vehicles. The intent is to truly promote the fun and fellowship of Shriners and Shriners International and to promote what we call the world’s greatest philanthropy, Shriners Hospitals for Children.”
It’s the first time the Beja Shriners is hosting the convention, which will welcome members from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota and the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The event rotates among the 15 Shrine centers in the MSA. Beja Shriners has been with the MSA for five years and wouldn't host again until 2037.
Attendees will headquarter at the Radisson Hotel & Convention Center, where the majority of the activities, including a “moonshine tasting party” and Wisconsin tailgate, are for members only.
The public is invited to check out the motor corps and clown competitions from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 19. Reece said the clowns would welcome an audience to play off as they face off in such categories as makeup/costume, parade ability, balloon tying and one- two- and three-man and unit competitions.
“The clowns take it extremely seriously, because the Shriner clowns are one of the oldest organizations in the Shrine,” Reece said. “They have their own clown association.”
While all that clowning around is happening inside the conference center, out on the west end of the Radisson parking lot, spectators can watch Shriners compete in a variety of motorized competitions, including formations and obstacle courses.
A marketplace with trinkets and crafts for sale is also open to the public from 3 to 6 p.m. Aug. 17 and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 18 and 19 inside the conference center. Visitors shouldn’t be surprised if an impromptu band or bagpipers pop up to perform in the lobby. It’s just what happens when Shriners get together.
“Come out and watch Shriners having fun helping kids,” Fehl said.
Contact Kendra Meinert at 920-431-8347 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @KendraMeinert.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Shriners plan parades in Green Bay, Seymour for Midwest convention