Wilson Shriners put on special kind of party

Sinclaire Sparkman • Updated Dec 15, 2016 at 11:00 AM

The Shriners of Wilson County invited special needs people to enjoy music, food and dancing Tuesday evening for their annual special needs party in the East-West Building at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon. 

The event is a favorite among Wilson County Shriners. 

“For me, this is how Christmas begins,” said Shriner John “Bev” Spickard. “We look forward to it all year.”

The night began with a gathering of about 120 people from Prospect, Inc. and the special needs program in Wilson County Schools. The event is geared toward people with special needs in grade 8 and beyond.

Shiner Joe Williams organized this year’s event, which he said has been put on for nearly 50 years.

Longtime Shriner Dickie Wayland Johnson gave a prayer before the meal, highlighting the joy of the season and the focus on Jesus Christ. 

A line was formed around the room for dinner and the dessert table with a variety of cookies manned by Spickard and Tommy Knowles.

Clowns brought some entertainment during dinner with painted faces, silly costumes and funny antics. The clowns are Shriners that come from all across Tennessee to bring a lively atmosphere to the event. 

“This event is all about the kids, although some of them are older than me. It’s one of the biggest events we put on all year,” Johnson said.

Musicians, many who have participated in the Grand Ol’ Opry, played live after the meal singing Christmas carols and getting nearly the whole room on its feet for dancing.  

At the end of the night, each participant was given a gift basket that contained fruit, candy and a $10 bill.

The event was free and funded by the Wilson County Shriners, with help from donations made by Walmart, K-Mart, Kroger and other retailers. 

Check out a full gallery of photos from the event. 

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