1956: Shriners Pranked Downtown
The merry Mason pranksters took over Cleveland for a weekend
It was a day like any other at the offices of The Cleveland Press, the city’s most vital newspaper. Copyboys scurried back and forth, typewriters clicked and clacked, and editor Louis B. Seltzer presided over it all from his office. Then a box full of men in red fez caps appeared outside the third-story window, singing their hearts out.
Hoisted by an industrial lift, Cleveland’s Al Koran Shriners Chanters, 20 voices strong, were promoting the upcoming Great Lakes Shrine Association ceremony later in the week. Shriners from throughout the country, known for their pranks, tiny cars at parades and hospitals for the disadvantaged, gathered in Cleveland the weekend of Sept. 22.
About half of the 20,000 festival attendees marched to the lakefront stadium that weekend for music and hijinks. Other Shriner musical groups roamed the streets, assailing pedestrians with brassy tunes and pranks.
“There must be nearly 80 bands in town,” reported The Plain Dealer. And they were making life hell. “Considerable serenading was in progress most of the night. Every hotel has at least one band.”
By Monday, the Shriners were gone.