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Editorial: Parade accident doesn't mean Shriners should be banned

The accident during the Water Carnival parade Sunday involving a Shriner go-cart was unfortunate, but it doesn't mean Shriners should be banned from future parades.

The El Zagel Shrine has 12 units in North Dakota and Minnesota that each specialize in a different function for parades. Detroit Lakes has a color guard, for example.

Other units specialize as Vikings, Keystone Kops or clowns.

And some operate motorcycles, small red Mazda Miata sports cars, and racing go-carts. Those Shriners use speed, tricks and maneuvers to entertain the crowd.

The Shriners put on a great show, and have fun while they're doing it. The clowns this year, for example, engaged in a pitched water battle with some spectators near Washington Ballpark armed with water balloons. Faced with a losing battle, one clown resorted to dumping a pail of water on his tormentor's head.

With fewer floats and marching bands available, the Shriners are one of the best parts of the Parade of the Northwest. By some accounts, Shrine units made up about 10 percent of this year's parade.

It would be a much duller parade without the Shriners.

Which isn't to say there isn't room for improvement. Shriners are talking to members of the Detroit Lakes Jaycees, which organizes the Northwest Water Carnival and the parade, about safety improvements for next year.

Some Shrine units, for example, would prefer to be ahead of parade participants that throw candy, to avoid children chasing sweets and running into harms way.

Parents have some responsibility here, of course, to keep their children off the street during the parade. It's not a bad idea for everyone to back up a bit when Shriners are performing their high-speed tricks, either.

It can be easy to focus on an accident and forget the good that Shriners do.

Shriners Hospitals for Children is a unique health care system that helps kids through pediatric specialty care, innovative research and outstanding teaching programs.

Shriners have been raising funds for their hospitals since 1922, helping children 17 and under who suffer from orthopedic problems, burn injuries, spinal cord injuries and cleft lips and palates, among other things.

And the price is right -- treatment at the 22 Shriner hospitals across the country is free.