Elk herd converges on Two Rivers Park
When a fraternal organization grows so large it must amend its bylaws to accept new members, a group photo is a great way to mark the occasion.That’s what Elks Lodge No. 2286 in West Glenwood Springs will do at its annual picnic at 1 p.m. Saturday in Two Rivers Park.”There’ll be a professional photographer, and a crane to lift him up,” said Elks Secretary Tom Williams. “With families and all, there could be more than 300 in the picture.”The Elks Lodge, located below the Glenwood Springs Golf Club, has grown nearly 30 percent since 1999, and the current count is 508.The old membership cap was 499, but last year was increased to 599, Williams said.The cause of the membership increase? Williams speculated a lot of it might be all the golfers who like to come down to the lodge after shooting a round.”Just about everybody on the Hill is an Elk,” Williams joked. “So we’ve got a lot of younger members.”For the record, according to the Elks computer, the average age for a Glenwood Elks member is 53.4 years old.Williams said the Glenwood Springs Elks Lodge was established in 1963, taking over a building that housed a mortuary.For years the lodge operated under a membership cap of 499 because it lacked the space for more numbers. When the horseshoe-shaped bar room was remodeled, it created more space.”And the membership really grew,” Williams said.Earlier this year, lodge officer Gary Jochum suggested the Elks have a contest to design a new lapel pin, and also have a group photograph taken. The pin design contest was won by lodge member Jeff Franke.Williams said Elks membership is open to men and women over 21 years old. The lodge doesn’t advertise for new members, who must be sponsored by an existing member. Part of the membership process includes an interview.”We interview everybody,” William said.The group is far more than a social club. Each year, the Elks:-Donate $7,000 for scholarships to graduating seniors.-Hold a Christmas dinner for senior citizens and the disabled.-Distribute 70 Christmas food and gift baskets.-Sponsor the local Hoop Shoot and Soccer Shoot.The Elks also sponsor Boy Scout Troop No. 225.Nationwide, there are nearly 1.2 million Elks Lodge members in nearly 2,200 communities.The Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks was founded in New York in 1868, according to the group’s website.Founder Charles Vivian emigrated from England to New York City in 1867. He was a successful comic singer and dancer who continued his career in the United States.He quickly formed a group called the Jolly Corks. When one of the group’s members died shortly before Christmas in 1867, leaving his wife and children destitute, the Jolly Corks came to their financial aid.In 1868, the Jolly Corks founded the Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks in order to continue their charitable and social activities.
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