The Imperial Room inside the Rhode Island Shriners Club was transformed into a winter wonderland last Friday night.
Hillary Williamson, the Shiners’ director of sales, decorated each of the round table tops with white linens, tea-light candles and silver chargers with mirrors and vases that contained silver glitter branches with cardinals.
Even the head table was aglow with cylinder candles – and roses – that sparkled because the lighting was turned down low and every chair was draped with white cover.
The room and night’s program was to honor the Illustrious William J. “Bill” Hall, the 126th Potentate of the Rhode Island Shriners, during a pomp-and-circumstance installation dinner.
From the time James Rapson, who served as the event’s emcee for the 21st straight year, kicked off the gathering until Hall delivered a brief yet highly informational “thank you” speech, the dinner brought together a number agencies with the ancient organization of Masons.
“Our top priority this year is membership,” said Hall, who served as Illustrious Potentate in 2007 and was recently voted to a second term. “We also want to have fun – all year – and are planning several exciting events that will also be open to the public.”
Once the applause simmered, Hall, who was accompanied during the black-tie affair by Alice Johnston, added, “Next month, for example, we’ll have a Bond/Trivia Night. Get out your best [James] Bond costume, but it’s not necessary to wear one. Just get ready to have some fun!”
Like most Shriners, who have for years prided in their mission of helping disabled and burned children, Hall is hoping to increase membership through a number of special socials that he emphasized are open to the general public.
Other events that will happen during Hall’s year as Illustrious Potentate are a Strawberry Festival, Chopsticks Auction, Western Night and what promises to be a unique and interesting Adult Easter Egg Hunt.
On a serious note, the Illustrious Potentate/CEO hopes to work with other programs and the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island.
His hopes, in fact, are in keeping with the philosophy of Russell R. Davis Sr., Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons for the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, who was accompanied by his wife Laurie.
Davis Sr., in fact, delivered a powerful and personal message stressing friendship and fraternity within each organization connected with the Masons during a heart-felt address.
The evening, which began with a cocktail party and included the Pledge of Allegiance, singing of the national anthem, a prayer and a specially prepared dinner with three different choices of entrée, was both serious and fun-filled from start to finish.
Perhaps one of the night’s more emotional parts came when Rapson began introducing the 11 men who’ll lead the Rhode Island Shriners during 2014. Each of those officers was escorted into the Imperial Room by an aide of the Rhode Island Shriners.
Those officers are: Illustrious Potentate William J. Hall, Captain of the Guard Norman F. Messinger, Second Ceremonial Master Robert St. Jean, First Ceremonial Master Donald L. Williamson Jr., Director Robert M. Chase Jr., Recorder Paul M. Healy, Treasurer Bryan A. Martin, Oriental Guide Louis G. Sherman, High Priest & Prophet Domenic J. “Dimples” DiStefano, Assistant Rabban Andrew B. “Bogie” Hencler and Chief Rabban Glenn E. Medeiros.