BANGOR, Maine — Jerry Hutchinson, decked out in his red fez, stood Saturday afternoon on State Street as his fellow Shriners paraded by driving miniature 18-wheelers, undersize motorcycles, go-carts, toy lobster boats and miniature monster trucks, despite an accident earlier in the day that sent a Vermont Shriner to Eastern Maine Medical Center.
Bangor police said Sunday they could not identify the injured man because of health care privacy laws.
Many of those who took part in the parade and those who lined the streets of downtown Bangor were unaware of the mishap.
New Shriner Hutchinson of Houlton said that he had recently joined the Anah Shrine Temple so had not yet earned his “driver’s license” in the organization that supports children’s hospitals.
“They are just a great bunch of guys,” he said when asked why he had joined. “It’s a great unit.”
His wife, Dianne Hutchinson, said that being a Shriner was a bit of a tradition in her family.
“My brother, who is in his 60s now, was in a Shriners’ hospital when he was a little boy,” she said. “He had a cleft palate and needed surgery. His experience really made us appreciate the hospital and what it does for families.”
She said that her father was a Shriner and so is her brother, who lives in Brunswick.
Marilyn Bishop of Veazie said she came to the parade to show her support for the Shriners’ work, but she almost had her purse snatched. One group in the parade was made up of men dressed as early 19th century police officers with night sticks who tried to corral several “prisoners” dressed in black-and-white striped jail outfits.
Suddenly, one of the mock prisoners “escaped” from his jailer and made a beeline for Bishop’s pocketbook, sitting on the sidewalk next to her folding chair. Just as the “criminal” reached to snatch it, she pulled it into her chair and the officer shooed his prisoner back into the parade line.
“I knew what he was going to do from other events I’ve been to,” she said. “I just played along. I was smiling at him.”
The parade, that went from Exchange Street to State Street and ended at the Bass Park complex on Main Street, lasted more than two hours. It was the culmination of the annual three-day conference of the Northeast Shrine Association that brought between 5,000 and 7,000 Shriners from 15 temples in New England and northeastern Canada to Bangor, Anthony Bowers, potentate of the Anah Shrine Temple, said after the parade.
The last time the conference was in Bangor was 1989, Bowers of Island Falls said.
“We’ve inundated the hotels and restaurants,” he said. “We had a great crowd today for the parade. We had thunder in the morning but it cleared off and it wasn’t too hot for that walk up [Main Street] hill. And, we had a great crowd. But, it’s all the kids. That’s why we do it.”
Bowers praised city officials, the Greater Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce and the police and fire departments in helping plan for the event over the past three years.
As the parade wound down, it was unclear whether the accident that earlier in the day injured the Vermont Shriner would mar the festivities.
The man was testing out a tiny motor-powered car in the parking lot behind the Bank of America building on Exchange Street, according to Bangor police. A member of the Cairo Shriners of Rutland, Vt., the man suffered a head injury when he apparently gave the car too much gas and ran into the flatbed trailer from which it and other vehicles had been unloaded.
He was not wearing a helmet.
Shriner Marvin Tarbox Jr., 59, of Hancock died last October after a go-cart accident at the Damariscotta Pumpkin Fest Parade in Newcastle. The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said last year that a ramp that carried the go-carts over an SUV apparently failed while Tarbox was driving over it. His go-cart then flipped over and toppled onto the pavement, where he was struck by at least two other go-cart drivers, according to a previously published report.
Tarbox, who also was not wearing a helmet, was a member of the Anah Temple Shrine in Bangor, which hosted the parade other activities.
His go-cart team took part in Saturday’s event but did not use the ramp. A truck that was slowly driven in front of the go-carts sported a banner that read “In Loving Memory of Marvin Tarbox Jr.”