Hello again, my Brothers!
I am a member of many concordant bodies, one of which is the Shrine. I am a member of Cyprus and Oriental Shrine Temples. I would like to give Craftsmen followers a little more info on one of New York State’s most northern Shrine Temples. Brothers Jeffery Lindstrand and Byron Moak have provided me with a fantastic glimpse into how Oriental started and some notable/historical members of this great Temple. To be transparent — they helped write most of what is below. I must give credit where credit is due!
The Oriental Shrine Temple was founded on February 21, 1877, with a meeting presided over by Illustrious Noble Jesse B. Anthony. He was at that time Grand Potentate by virtue of a Dispensation dated February 7, 1877, issued by the Imperial Grand Council of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (the original name of the Shriners). Grand Potentate Anthony declared Oriental Temple duly organized and in order for the transaction of business. A second meeting was held three days later, and nine names were proposed and accepted for membership. Each member paid their dues of one dollar to join. From these humble beginnings, Oriental Shrine Temple has continued to thrive for 144 years.
In March 1942, during World War II, a unique Ceremonial was held. Oriental Temple named General Douglas MacArthur an honorary member of the Temple. He was sent his honorary membership along with a special telegram and a special resolution. On April 29, 1950, Oriental and Cyprus Temple jointly held the Harold Lloyd Ceremonial. Lloyd was a world-famous actor and comedian. Brother Lloyd was best known for his appearance in silent comedy films. He held his own with the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. He was also the Imperial Potentate at that time and was making an official visit to the area. That day 65 novices were initiated at the Troy Masonic Temple. A Parade was then held from City Hall to the Washington Avenue Armory for an evening program. During that program, Illustrious Potentate Lloyd was made an honorary member of the Oriental Temple.
Oriental celebrated its 100th Anniversary on May 28, 1977, at the Lake Placid Club with 600 guests and 75 novices. Representatives from 12 other Temples attended and marched in a parade through the town.
The Oriental Shrine Temple of today looks very different than it did in the 60s and 70s. Membership is down to about 300 members, which reflects the overall decline in Masons over that time. This decline in members did not mean that there were fewer activities. Oriental Shrine has Masons from Troy to Vermont to the Canadian border and most of the Adirondacks. They now meet in a building at 75 Water Plant Road, about 4 miles from Uncle Sam’s gravesite in Troy’s historic Oakwood Cemetery. They raise thousands of dollars for the Hospitals.
Oriental is also very active in fundraising. They sell t-shirts at the Annual Lake George Polar Plunge on New Year’s day (profits go to Springfield Hospital), host a Vidalia Onions sale in the spring, conduct a community-wide Basket Raffle in June as well as participate in many other community events. They keep an active social media presence and proudly display their Fez wherever it is appropriate. You will frequently see Shriners during the Summer concerts at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
Members of the Oriental Shrine
Oriental has a very active Patient Transportation Unit. Over the past few years, the volunteer Shriner drivers and riders have taken between 60-82 trips per year to Shriner’s Hospitals (trips were paused during the COVID19 pandemic for safety reasons). The brothers that help with the transportation are called Shepherds. They provide safe transport to the hospitals for the children/parents — one more way Shriners help give back to society.
The most popular public event for the Oriental Shriners is their Annual Shriners Circus. Each year during the summer, Oriental sponsors a professional Circus to come to the area and hold several shows at various locations. There are usually 5-6 days of shows with 2 or more shows on most days. These shows feature Shriners handing out clown noses, coloring books, and programs for all attendees. Additionally, Keystone Kops and Clowns usually assist and entertain attendees even before they enter the Big Top. This is always a great time for both young and older fans!
If you are already a Shriner, you know how much fun we have and how much valuable charity work we do for the Shriners Hospitals for Children. If you are a Mason, but not a Shriner, WHY NOT??? It is easy to join! Just contact any Shriner or sign up online. You will be glad you did! And if you know of any child who might need treatment at one of the Shriner Medical Centers, contact us at the Temple or call 800-237-5055.
I hope you have enjoyed this little look inside Oriental Shrine. If you ever have a question about how to join or how to get a child in need to the hospital, please feel free to contact me directly. Again, a BIG thank you to Brothers Jeffery and Bryon for their help with this article!
Written by RW Anthony Prizzia
Adonai Lodge #718
Member of Cyprus Shrine, Oriental Shrine, Ulster County Shrine Club, Valley of Albany A.A.S.R, Poughkeepsie Chapter 172, Poughkeepsie Commandery 43, Royal Order of Scotland.