BELFAST, Maine — More than 1,000 Shriners and their families are expected to come to Belfast this weekend for the organization’s summer ceremonial and parade, and community members can’t wait to see their city’s streets overrun with mini-cars and mini-lobster boats.
Bill Dawson of Belfast, the potentate of northern and eastern Maine’s Anah Temple Shriners, said Thursday that the group expects to induct as many as 100 new members and also host a large contingent from the Luxor Temple Shriners in St. John, New Brunswick.
The parade Saturday afternoon will be the largest hosted by Belfast in at least five years and will last for about an hour and a half, he said.
“We’ll shut the town down for a couple of hours,” Dawson said.
Posters welcoming the Shriners have popped up on almost every downtown business, thanks to the Our Town Belfast community organization.
“Our Town Belfast is thrilled to have the Shriners and the parade present this weekend,” said Dorothy Havey, the organization’s new program manager. “We’re delighted to see so much community support for them.”
The group has made 500 welcome bags for visiting Shriners, which include coupons and walking maps of downtown Belfast.
The last time the summer ceremonial took place in Belfast was in 2000. Last summer, it was in Ellsworth and next year it is scheduled to take place in Houlton.
The fraternal organization raises funds to support 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children, which are spread across the United States, Canada and Mexico, according to Dawson.
“Shriners believe in giving back,” he said.
The parade will start at 2 p.m. Saturday, wind its way downtown and finish at the Waldo County Shrine Club on Northport Avenue.