Children's party brings members together
HUNTINGTON -- It's always a big deal when the white-bearded guy makes an appearance.
And for Jim McEntyre, the salt-and-pepper bearded state president of The Elks, he didn't mind sharing the stage Sunday afternoon with another perhaps even more famous bearded man when he made a visit to downtown Huntington Elks Lodge #313 for their annual Christmas party.
"Let's all go out on the front porch and see if we can't find Santa Claus," called out long-time member Kennie Jones, as Santa and Mrs. Claus made their to the Elks in style on a Huntington Fire Department truck.
About 20 kids and grandkids of Elks members, and a room full of Elks, joined the lodge's annual Christmas party as the youth were treated to a visit by Santa, a lunch-time meal as well as the magic and balloon-sculpting of Gary Boothe.
McEntyre, who hails from the Sistersville Lodge #333, said it has been an amazing year getting to visit the 21 Elks Lodges scattered throughout the state, and to witness the great community outreach by the more than 10,000 members.
"The Elks, like most other fraternal organizations, have shrunk in numbers, but the members continue to do good work, "McEntyre said. "We'd love to see it stabilize and grow again, but seeing things like this makes up for it. The work that we all do is really important, and it's really good to come out and to see all of the things we are involved with in the communities around the state." For McEntyre, who brought his wife, Kim, it was a Huntington homecoming for them, since they met when they were members of the Marching Thunder back in the early 1970s when they attended Marshall University.
While Santa got top billing, Boothe put a constant twinkle and wonder into the eyes of children and adults alike with his thoughtful and message-laden magic -- making water disappear out of cups into thin air, making a rabbit appear in a mailbox where kids put in a letter to Santa and making his 18-year-old dove Scooter appear out of a colorful handkerchief.
"Character will always hold you up, and no matter what will help you rise above the pack," said Boothe as a King of Diamonds magically rose out of a deck of cards.
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