published Friday, August 16,1996
More than 20 Shriner units scheduled for Buhl Day
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ANNUAL LABOR DAY PARADE TO START HALF-HOUR EARLY
By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
You could change the name of this year's Buhl Day parade to the Shriner's parade.
The Shriner's Zem Zem Temple in Erie has dedicated so many units to the Sept. 2 Labor Day parade that the starting time was changed to 9:30 a.m., 30 minutes earlier than usual, said parade organizer Mary Beth Calla.
``We figure it's going to run a little longer and we don't want to run into opening ceremonies,'' she said. ``It should be a good hour or more.''
Shriner John Bosco of Hermitage is guessing the first 45 minutes will be nothing but Shriners.
The parade starts at the Eat'N Park Restaurant, 2270 E. State St., Hermitage, heads west to Buhl Boulevard, Sharon, and proceeds north on Buhl to Buhl Farm park, Hermitage, where Buhl Day is held.
Other parade highlights include six high-school bands, fire engines and gold-medal Olympian Rodney White of Hermitage.
The parade was named a ``point function'' by the Shriners, meaning all Shriners in northwestern Pennsylvania are supposed to attend, said Bosco, director of clowns. If all show up, there will be more than 200 in the parade, he said.
The 20 Shriners units scheduled to be in the parade include Mercer County Wheel Patrol and Crawford County Motor Patrol, who drive the little cars that Zem Zem Temple is best known for.
``One thing nice down here is the streets are wide,'' Bosco said. ``These guys with their cars can perform pretty good.''
Other Zem Zem units will include clowns, the Legion of Honor, the Oriental Band, the Scottish Kiltie Band, a brass band and Shriner officers.
The Temple raises money for Shriner's orthopedic and burn hospitals, which offer free care. An orthopedic hospital is in Erie.
Bosco, who retired from Sharon Steel Corp.'s former Farrell plant, got involved with the organization more than four years ago, through friends. ``I thought it was something you can do for the children,'' he said.
Bosco, who as a clown is known as ``Little John,'' performs in nursing homes, at Shriners' benefits and functions and at the Shriners' hospital in Erie. A few weeks ago, Little John clowned around at an Erie car dealership that was raising money for the Shriners.
``We'll do most anything for a buck,'' he said.
But Bosco also takes his persona as a clown seriously. He's constantly looking for ways to improve his act and learn shortcuts in putting on his costume, which is currently an hourlong process.
Bosco makes his own props, including a bass drum equipped with a cassette player powered by a motorcycle battery, a kazoo that looks like a bullhorn and a cane with a washboard, cow bell and horn attached.
He also performs a touch of magic, pushing long needles through balloons, and showing off his ``pet'' raccoon and mouse.
``Anything to cut up,'' Bosco said is his clown motto.
Bosco recalled a recent visit to a nursing home when he presented a rose to a woman named Rose, telling her ``a rose for a Rose,'' which elicited a smile.
An employee told Bosco: ``John, in four years, that woman has never had a smile on her face.''
Donations to the Shriners can be sent to Zem Zem Temple, 2535 W. 38th St., Erie 16506-4546.
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Updated August 29, 1996