|From Larry MacLean: The Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America is a fraternal and philanthropic organization in Canada, USA, Mexico, and Panama. Their official philantropy is the Shriners Hospitals for Children, about two dozen orthopedic and burn care hospitals that provide no-cost care to children. A Master Mason must have achieved the 32nd degree in the Scottish Rite or the Knights Templar degree in the York Rite before he can petition to become a Noble of the Mystic Shrine. In public they are most famous for circuses and parade appearances that feature clowns, miniature cars sometimes doing drills, "Oriental bands," (shawms and drums) and the occasional pipe band. Some of the bands are stable, tolerable organizations who give pipers a good foundation. Some of them are primarily social, with spotty results. Rarely are they above "street band" caliber, leading to the comments in this internet group.