Lewiston preps for September Shriners’ convention

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LEWISTON — More than 1,000 Shriners from around the Northeast will march, drive, play music and participate in a large parade Sept. 19, according to organizers from the Kora Shrine.

The parade is a highlight of the Northeast Shrine Association’s annual Field Days celebration scheduled for Sept. 17-19. The weekend event includes a golf tournament, competitions and field games at the Auburn Mall, as well as concerts at Lewiston’s Dufresne Plaza and the parade.

In all, more then 2,000 Shriners are expected in Lewiston and most of them will be marching, according to Bernie McAllister, a member of the Lewiston-based Kora Shrine and the deputy director general of the Northeast Shrine Association.

“We know Bangor is coming in force; they said that everyone will be here,” McAllister told city councilors Tuesday night. “What does that look like? I figure we’ll have at least 150 guys from Bangor, but we are expecting people from Ottawa, all over the Canadian provinces and Massachusetts. (Massachusetts Shriners will) be bringing three tractor-trailers with all their gear.”

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The parade is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. at the city’s Public Works Yard on Adams Avenue. It will proceed down Canal Street, up Main Street to Sabattus Street and turn back toward the downtown at College Street, ending at the municipal parking lot on Park Street.

“There will be bands, marching units, walking units, cars — little cars and big cars,” McAllister said.

Deputy City Administrator Phil Nadeau said the parade will be the largest downtown since Lewiston hosted the Maine State Parade in 2003.

Like that parade, residents will have to plan around it.

“There will be some disruption, and we have worked hard to do what we can to minimize those disruptions,” Nadeau said.

The city will shut down parking on most downtown streets east of Canal Street at 8 a.m. the day of the parade, closing them to traffic at 1 p.m. That includes the lengths of Lisbon and Park streets and all of the tree streets between Canal and Bates streets. Streets west of the parade route will be open to local traffic only until the parade wraps up at about 4 p.m.

Traffic will be routed around the parade and the downtown, along Lincoln Street, through Auburn and across the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge.

Lewiston is the headquarters of the Kora Shrine but has never hosted the Northeast Shrine Association’s annual convention, which brings Shriners from 15 organizations from as far away as Rhode Island, Prince Edward Island and Montreal.

Each Shrine group in the Northeast gets to host the celebration once every 15 years, and 2015 is Kora’s turn. The last time, and every time before that, the honor went to Portland.

staylor@sunjournal.com

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