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Shriners come every year, don’t disappoint

Larry Webb, of Ironton, wore his Marine Veteran hat to the Ironton-Lawrence County Memorial Day Parade.

“I come down about every year,” he said. “I love everything that has to do with it. There’s really nothing I don’t like.”

His wife, Jean, was more to the point.

She likes watching other people who sit on the sidelines and she likes the Shriners. The Shriners are a frequently-mentioned popular entry each year.

And that’s the way El Hasa Shrine Noble Richard Hartman likes it.

The Ashland, Ky., based group comes each year, and makes up the entire Fifth Division.

“We’re old men and young men who like to have fun and work for the kids. That’s why we do it. We work for the kids,” he said.

The Shriners included a calliope in this year’s lineup. It’s been years since the musical instrument was rolled out. Hartman drove the truck that hauled it.

“The guy who played it was John. I don’t know his last name. We flew him in from Florida to play it. He belongs here (to El Hasa) but lives in Florida. None of the rest of us is gifted enough to even play the piano,” Hartman mused.

When Hartman isn’t driving a truck in the parade, he drives a van that takes children to Shriner’s hospitals for treatment. He made two trips to Chicago in less than a week recently.

Children with special medical needs are a main focus of the Shriners and the organization operates 23 hospitals nationwide.

The hospital in Chicago specializes in orthopedic needs, cleft palates and spinal ailments. The Lexington, Ky., hospital is an orthopedic center. The one in Columbus specializes in burns.

But on Monday, the focus was on pleasing those kids, young and old, along the parade route and Hartman and company didn’t disappoint.

Hillbilly cars squirted water and blew silly horns. One convertible reared up on its back tires.

Clowns walked hot dogs while some Shriners carried pairs of giant-sized women’s underwear they paraded before guffawing women.

And then there was the oriental band with its scimitar carrying, purple-clad rajah and his signature bump and grind. Enough said.

“It was a wonderful crowd,” Hartman said. “And that’s what we like. The more, the merrier.”