Grand Marshal McCrory
By Jeff Eason
The Oasis Shriners have a long and storied relationship with Blowing Rock.
At one time Julian Price, the creator and namesake for one of Blowing Rock’s premiere parks, was potentate of the Oasis Shriners. Later, Oasis Shriner potentate Paul Broyhill was instrumental in building the First Baptist Church of Blowing Rock in the 1960s.
That Blowing Rock connection continues as the Oasis Shriners plan to hold their fourth Summer Ceremonial in Blowing Rock in the past five years in the village. The event will include meetings, luncheons and dinners, induction of new members, and a parade down Main Street.
On Friday, Oasis Shriners potentate David Sumter announced that NC Gov. Pat McCrory will serve as the grand marshal for the parade, to be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 31. Sumter made the announcement at a press conference at Timberlake’s Restaurant at Chetola Resort.
“The Saturday event will be called ‘Oasis in the Park,’” said Sumter. “It will be the first time ever that we’ve had the governor of North Carolina in one of our parades. Pat McCrory has graciously agreed to be our grand marshal. I think it is going to be a fun and outstanding event.”
According to Sumter, the parade will also feature the Watauga High School Marching Pioneer Band, the WHS Junior ROTC, and members of the Watauga County National Guard unit, in addition to the Shriners' bands, floats and hundreds of miniature vehicles.
“The Oasis Shriners have been working with veterans since the end of World War II,” said Sumter. “Today we are working with Charlotte Bridge Home to help veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan make the transition from the battlefield to the home front. Many of them have been traumatized and suffer from post traumatic symptom disorder.
“We are working with Wounded Warriors to help fund their comfort dog program. These dogs are trained to protect and comfort their veterans in uncomfortable situations. The dogs can sense a problem and nudge the veteran or get in between him or her and an obstacle in a crowd.”
According to Sumter, the training for comfort dogs can cost between $4,500 and $6,000.
The Oasis Shriners’ primary goal is to raise money for children’s hospitals, their patients and families.
After the parade on May 31, the Oasis Shriners are inviting children and their families to meet them in Blowing Rock Memorial Park to check out the wide variety of miniature vehicles used in the parade. There will also be several giveaways for children, including drawings for two giant stuffed “Fezzie” bears.