They are the men in tiny cars, on motorcycles, silly bikes and trailers and in clown makeup. They bang drums and symbols, and no parade would be complete without them.
Shriners use parades as a way to spread awareness about how the group helps children with orthopedic conditions, cleft lip and palate, burns, spinal cord injuries.
“We Shriners support 21 different medical facilities in the U.S. and Canada,” said Carroll Scribner, past potentate and 46-year Shriner member.
“We take a child with a medical condition and do everything necessary to make them as close to good as new,” he said. “We raise the money for the medical treatment and don’t charge one cent to the parents.”
Scribner was at the Pioneer Day Parade with members of the parade unit including motorcycles, clowns and little cars on Saturday afternoon in Englewood.
Scribner said despite the aging population of Shriners, new members are welcome to help with parades, fundraising and community outreach about Shriner resources.
“It’s our busy time right now with the upcoming parade circuit,” he said. “Saturday at the Pioneer Days Parade, along with the North Port and Venice Shriners. There is a motorcycle unit, clowns, and our greeter unit and a float."
“Then we will be at the Venice Holiday Parade on Nov. 30, at the Sarasota Holiday Parade on Dec. 7 and at the North Port Poinsettia Parade on Dec. 14,” he said. “We don’t go to parades unless we are invited. We want to entertain people and have them remember us when they know there is a child in need. It’s so important that people understand we never send a bill to a parent for the children’s medical treatment.”
The Shriners, who have weekly meetings in North Port and also meet in Venice and Sarasota Sahib, also attend children’s events when asked.
“We are there to entertain the kids,” Scribner said.
Scribner said if a child needs the medical services, the parent can contact any Shriner member to handle all of the paperwork before the child is admitted to a Shriner’s Hospital.
“A parent can call the Shrine Temple in Sarasota and they will be assigned to a Shriner to work with them,” he said. “We own and build the Shriner’s facilities. We have our own doctors and nursing staff.”
One of the ways the Shriners raise money for medical treatment is through the Hospital Days in February. Shriners stand in front of grocery stores across America asking for donations.
“In our region, we served over 1,000 children at our various hospitals throughout the U.S.,” he said. “A child can go with their parents to a hospital in Tampa, Texas, Boston or where ever we offer the services. It all depends on the type of care they need.”
For more information, on the Shriners services or membership, call 941-488-4363.