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Mecca Shriners Focus on Family, Fun and Fellowship

large group of Shriners with families

We recently spoke with Mecca Shriners Potentate Anthony Ruffini about the chapter's focus on Family, Fun and Fellowship.


As a father with young children, Potentate Anthony Ruffini of New York City’s Mecca Shriners knows the challenges facing working parents going home from work and trying to get everyone ready for a weeknight event. To make it easier on families and to encourage more participation, “All events are on Saturday, period,” said Ruffini.

While families are welcome at all gatherings, a few are especially for kids, including an upcoming Harry Potter-themed party.

Date Night at the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) is an after-hours evening where guests will enjoy special programming and music, while surrounded by 5,000 years of art. Mecca Shriners is one of three groups with access to this post-Valentine’s Day ticketed event.


The Polar Explorers Club was an idea that took one of the top honors in the fraternity’s Fun & Fellowship Competition in 2023. The club was inspired by the famous New York City Polar Plunge, and according to Ruffini, “The group enjoys anything to do with cold, even if it’s just a cold beer.”

On New Year’s Day this year, a festive and hardy group of Shriners took part in the Coney Island Polar Plunge, complete with plastic fezzes as they made their way to the icy water. Registration for the event included snazzy maroon robes, which went well with the fezzes and offered a unique photo opportunity.

Future frosty plans for the group include a February bumper cars on ice outing in Bryant Park, and a Christmas in July celebration at the Potentate’s home, decked out for the holidays.

large group of Shriners on beach wearing bathrobes


Starting in March, Fellowship will be on the agenda as Mecca leaders travel to all five New York City boroughs to meet fellow nobles for First Friday events in local neighborhoods. The idea is like Shriners on a road tour and that “we come to you,” said Ruffini.

Not all clubs need to meet in person. The Mecca Shriners Horological Society is a group of nobles who share a common interest in timepieces. Most meetups are via WhatsApp, where they have exchanged thousands of messages about watches, including their 2 o’clock Wrist Roll, where members share photos of the wristwatches they are wearing that day.

In a nod to the past, the chapter has reinstated the Mecca Yacht Club – with a twist. Instead of privately-owned boats, nobles and families meet for a ride on the Staten Island Ferry. The group brings food and refreshments, and wears Hawaiian shirts for the journey across New York Harbor. One excursion ended on Staten Island with a rousing greeting by the Staten Island Shrine Club, followed by a group dinner.

Ruffini offers advice for other chapters wishing to create more family and fellowship events. “No idea is a bad idea,” he said. “It might not be the right idea for now, but it’s still an idea.” He also suggested polling members to gauge their interests and input, and have a “just do it” attitude and try new things.

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