Capital Region Scrapbook: Shriner fez-tivities (with photo gallery)
State meeting held in 1949; locals enjoyed clambake in 1950
Cyprus of Albany, Ziyara of Albany, Ismailia of Buffalo and Kalurah of Binghamton were all in Schenectady on Saturday, Sept. 10, 1949.
It might have been hard to pronounce the names of the groups, but it wasn’t hard to recognize their members. The New York Shrine Association was in town, and so were 1,200 marching men who were wearing the traditional red fez and ornate vests and pants of the Shriners.
The fraternity was known as the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine when it was established in 1870, as an associate group to Freemasonry.
William H. Jones of Schenectady was one of the top Shriners around on Sept. 10. Jones was the potentate of the Oriental Shrine of Troy and the host of the annual state meeting. He was one of the first men people saw during the Shriners’ seven-division parade down State Street.
The 75-minute afternoon show, which also included visitors from the Damascus Shrine of Rochester, Tigris of Syracuse and Rameses Shrine of Toronto, ended with dinner and Shriner competitions at Schenectady’s Armory on Washington Avenue.
Local Shriners ran a smaller gathering a year later. On Sunday, Sept. 10, 1950, the Schenectady Shrine Club hosted a clambake at Myers Farm on River Road. Louis Cohen, Alfred Thomas and Burt McQueen were running the lunch, which featured the Albany Old-Time German Band.
In 2010, the mystic organization changed its name to Shriners International. The Shriners are best known for administering their Shriners Hospitals for Children.
There are currently about 340,000 members from 194 chapters in the United States, Canada and abroad.