A Shriner parade in Chattanooga was the scene of an accident when one of the miniature cars for which the service organization is noted plowed into the crowd of spectators. Five people were sent to a hospital, yet no charges were filed against the driver. Here’s a story from the Chattanooga Times Free Press, and here’s a video of the accident:
When I was growing up in Kingsport, a staple of our Fourth of July parade was the “Oriental Band” from a local Shrine temple. This musically challenged group, fronted by a rotund and shameless gentleman doing a parody of a belly dance, would march along decked out in short vests, fezzes, and billowing trousers.
When I moved to Massachusetts, one of the weirder events that I ever witnessed was the national convention of the Shriners, aka the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. This group put on a parade every day, with all manner of small cars and other vehicles performing intricate maneuvers in the streets, and–thankfully–managing to hold everything in the road.
The Shriners do all manner of good works, and perhaps this is why their depiction of “Arabia” is allowed to continue in these politically correct times in which we live. In the Shriner world, time is frozen at about 1870, the year the organization was founded. Members meet in “temples” or “mosques,” and officers have titles such as “Imperial Potentate.”
The Boston area’s many colleges host all manner of international students, several of them from Arab countries. I often wondered what they thought of the Shriners, decked out in costumes that looked like extras from some sort of Indiana Jones movie.