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Christmas in July

Season’s Greetings

Travel Back In Time to Shriner Holidays Past

It’s summer, and things are heating up! Your Shriner Magazine editors thought we’d offer you some cool relief with these holiday memories. Although publication dates do not allow us to include winter celebrations in Shriner Magazine, we often receive submissions about holiday events.

So grab a chilled beverage, kick back and enjoy!

NFL Superstar Rob Gronkowski Thrills Patients

Retired NFL superstar Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski made a surprise visit to Shriners Children’s New England in Springfield to spread holiday cheer to patients and their families. Dressed as “Robbie the Elf,” Gronk interacted with patients – shooting hoops, painting, playing air hockey and soccer, and even trying his hand at origami. He brought gifts for patients and was generous with autographs. Patient Sam, 11, along with his mother and younger brother, got to meet Mr. Gronkowski. Sam had this message for Mr. Gronkowski: “My brother and I were so excited to meet you! Thank you for all you shared with us and for sharing your time with kids like me!”

staff member, two Shriners, Gronkowski

Rob "Robbie the Elf" Gronkowski at Shriners Children's New England

South Dakota State Capitol Tree

What has 48 Fezzy bears from Build-a-Bear Workshop, 100 Shriners International 150th anniversary ornaments, 100 Shriners Children’s 100th anniversary ornaments and hundreds of hand-decorated ornaments from patients of Shriners Children’s Twin Cities? The Shriners Christmas tree displayed at the Capitol Building in Pierre, South Dakota! Naja, El Riad and Yelduz Shriners collaborated on decorations for the 29.5 foot Black Hills spruce tree that was the focal point of the tree lighting ceremony, hosted by Governor Kristi Noem.

Christmas trees

Governor Noem remarked that when she heard the Shriners would be decorating the Capitol tree, she knew it would be fun!

Pyramid Shriners Celebrate with Masonic Brothers

Pyramid Shriners participated at the America-St. John's Lodge #8 holiday pancake breakfast in Stratford, Connecticut. Noble Donald M. Casey Jr. twisted balloon animals and hats for the patrons and taught children how to juggle. Noble Max Rosenberg played the role of Santa Claus and distributed gifts to every child in attendance. To make it a multicultural event, he read storybooks about Christmas and Hanukkah.

Santa, Mrs. Claus, a clown and two elves

Picture with Santa: Front row, Noble Donald M. Casey Jr., left, and Noble Max Rosenberg as Santa. Back row, Asher Rosenberg, left, Zohar Rosenberg and Osi Rosenberg

A Fabulous FEZ-tival

Here is some inspiration, whether it’s your temple’s annual event or you are looking to start one in 2023.

Bektash Shriners – Concord, New Hampshire

Started in 2001 with approximately 25 trees and believed to be the first Shriners Feztival of Trees, this event by Bektash Shriners has grown to about 128 fully decorated trees. Donated trees win awards such as Most Beautiful, Most Original, Best Theme and People's Choice. The judges are local radio and TV personalities. Bektash Chefs run the Candy Cane Cafe with various menu items such as hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, homemade chili and other culinary delights too numerous to list here.

“As the years passed, with the efforts of the Divan and our nobility, we have had radio and local newspaper interviews to promote our event. Now, our phones ring off the hook with folks calling to find out our hours and days that we are open long before the event is advertised,” said Tom Brison, Past Potentate and Recorder.

Christmas trees


Kora Shriners – Lewiston, Maine

Kora will celebrate its 18th annual Fez-tival of Trees this year. The event has grown substantially over the years and in 2022 raised $295,000, a record amount. The value of the trees donated was just under $75,000. Crowds have grown so much that the weeklong event requires that people attending reserve a timeslot to visit. Kora’s Fez-tival of Trees features over 60 festively decorated evergreens, a craft fair, silent auction, kid’s corner and a food court.

Arabia Shriners – Houston, Texas

Last year was Arabia's first time conducting a Feztival of Trees, but this group of Shriners was not only not nervous, but was at the ready to help other temples with their event. “In just our first year, we hosted our Fez-tival of Trees and helped seven other temples who were either already conducting a Fez-tival event, or were looking at starting one in 2023,” said Assistant Rabban Ben LaBlanc. Held at the Sam Houston Race Park, the event saw more than 1,500 people walk through the doors, and close to $20,000 was raised to help the temple. More than 50 corporate sponsors supported the event, and they were treated to a VIP preview night the evening before the Grand Opening. Arabia Shriners also partnered with the Mrs. Claus Cookie Company to sell cookies and hot cocoa during the event.