When I was a young Shriner I found the Shrine was not user friendly. The units I had interest in prohibited me from joining due to strict bylaws. The bylaws said you had to attend a certain number of parades to maintain membership with that unit. My job was six days a week and to be involved you needed to have Saturdays off however I worked almost every Saturday. Those bylaws have since been changed and our Shrine is more than user friendly. 

In the mean time, I still wanted to be a Shriner and be able to do something besides just pay my dues. When I joined the Shrine, I was told that the El Riad Shrine Circus was the largest fundraiser that we had. So, I took vacation every year to work the circus. We would start setting up for the circus on Monday and hope we were ready by Thursday. The storage trailer was packed full and the worst part about unloading and reloading was the carpet used in the three rings. Not only was it heavy but the smell left over from last year’s circus animals was quite strong. Somehow we inherited two hay bale escalators to make it easier to move supplies to the second floor. This was before they put in the elevator on the East side of the Sioux Falls Arena. The escalators were probably 30 feet long and heavy, real heavy. We would unload and reload these escalators two times that week. A couple years of that and we decided it was easier to carry the supplies up…yeah, slow learners.

I have met many great Shriners that have donated countless of hours to support our Shrine. As you think about all of the Shriners that work for a living, are married, have children, maintain their home life and still find time to be an active Shriner, it’s amazing.

Through out time we all have heard of famous people that were Shriners. Usually the ones that make the headlines are the Presidents of the United States, actors, pro golfers, race car drivers and professional singers. There are plenty more professions that label the Shriner as famous. There are many, many, many more Shriners that because they’re not the president of our country, they’re not an actor, they’re not a pro golfer, they’re not a race car driver, they’re not a professional singer, and åthey do not get the label of being a famous Shriner. 

El Riad Shrine also has many famous Shriners. We have Shriners that have helped our Temple survive the test of time. El Riad has been here since April of 1888. In that 132 years, there have been many famous Shriners that worked together to get us where we are today. When our Shrine reopens, come to our building and look around. Look at your Shrine family, look at them closely, real close. You will see that big heart, you will see that drive to succeed, that determination, you will feel the love, you are home, you are among the famous Shriners of El Riad.

Years ago, Jim Croce wrote and sang a song titled “Time in a Bottle” where he sang about there was not enough time to spend with his love. Jim wanted to bottle up his time so he could save it to be with his love longer. We all know how precious time is. This pandemic has taken our shrine time away from us. We all enjoy more time at home with our family but not under these circumstances. We want our lives back to normal, we want to return to our Shrine. We will use our drive to succeed, our strong determination and our love for the shrine to ensure we survive time, for the next 132 years. 

Nobles, during this pandemic we all have suffered and had to make sacrifices. Our Shrine has had to cancel and postpone events, and may still have to moving forward. Our Shrine has no money coming in and bills to pay. In our communities we watch helplessly as our businesses are forced to close. Our friends, neighbors and brothers are staying home with little or no income coming in and bills to pay. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. Brothers that need help, please call me at (605) 254-2695. If I don’t answer please leave a message. If we can help, we will. You names will be kept confidential. 

This pandemic is under control and soon will be over. As we go back to our Shrine we cannot make up for lost time, we have no time in a bottle. 

We will take the time given us and use it wisely.

Thank you for being a famous Shriner.

Fraternally Yours, 

Al Zahn 

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